Feuds, brawls, exiles, murders, sexual intrigues (of every variety): tell with flair and zest the life and times in Milan, Rome, Naples and Malta of Michelangelo Merisi (1571-1610), and it already makes for a shockingly rollicking read.
Yet the painter known as Caravaggio also made a revolution in European art, in pictures as lightning-bright and thunder-dark as the record of his tumultuous days.
Graham-Dixon's biography outpaces a populous pack of rivals with its combination of original research and the critical acuity you would expect from this source.
Solitary, errant, obsessive, Merisi became the archetypal artist. If this precise but exciting narrative illuminates a man, and age, behind the myth, it also shows us why the myth still burns.