Caravaggio was one hell of an artist.
Don't get me wrong, the man was a painter, and one of the best, at a time when the Church needed as much good, dramatic art as it could get to frighten the faithful. And Caravaggio delivered, with dramatic chiaoscuro and lighting, and a knack for rendering reality (and a philosophy that demanded rendering nature as it was, versus painting an ideal). His paintings were so good and so realistic that later scholars would look at plants and fruit he had painted and diagnose diseases the plants from which the plant had suffered.
But then again, the man was also frankly a class A dickhead. In addition to killing people and buggering the young male relatives of the rich and influential, he liked to paint things that made people uncomfortable. One of his first works, Love the Conqeror, showed his very young muse (and night time companion, as some would have it) smiling as a cherub amongst a still life, with his legs splayed open, displaying his infantile genitalia. EVERY line in the painting pointed to his genitals, which were at the center of the work, so your eye would be constantly drawn to the item in question, rather uncomfortably.
When commissioned to paint the Madonna, he used the town's most recognizable whore as the model for the Immaculately conceived. A painting of the conversion of St. Paul destined for a church, that he knew would hang opposite one of his rivals' and would face the priest, literally had the hind quarters of a horse as the main part of the picture, taking up most of the canvas.
And yet, his personal troubles and professional affronts were mostly excused or ignored, as his work had very real propaganda and artistic value. Noone could paint the severed head or the broken neck of Goliath quite like Caravaggio.
And yet, his luck was starting to run out. Joining the Knights of Malta as yet another ruse to keep him alive and away from the swords of his enemies, he was nevertheless bounced out in bad standing for some offense that none would document (and given that they DID document these things, it was HIGHLY likely that it involved some young knight).
He died shortly after. Noone is quite sure what actually happened. Caravaggio's life is poorly documented, what we know of it is mostly from court documents and the like. But we do know that he got on a ship one day and never arrived at his destination. There were stories and rumors of him being cast away on dry land, delirious and sick, refusing to travel any further by boat and necessitating a rapid return to land to relieve themselves of him. It's more likely that once he was at sea, there was nowhere left for him to run, and some enemy found him aboard that ship and a fanciful story was concocted to cover up a murder.
* New documents show that the man killed in a tennis match was actually killed over a dispute over a prostitute both men were in love with. Thomassoni, the man in question, was possibly her pimp, and Caravaggio was attempting to castrate the man in the fight, with lethal results - and this would have been consistent with the style of the day that inflicted an injury depending on the type of offense that spurred the fight.
Given that we know Caravaggio was homosexual, the evidence that he also desired women leads to a new conclusion - that he was actually both and could therefore pass as straight when required.