Was Caravaggio the First Master of Light?

Light has been fundamental to art for centuries predating the camera. However, utilizing realistic and impactful light — an objective of many photographers and artists today — wasn’t always the case.Photography has seen many labelled “masters of light” over the decades; Henri Cartier-Bresson, Fan Ho, Richard Avedon, Sabastiao Salgado, Bill Cunningham, Ansel Adams — and these are just off the top of my head. My knowledge of the art world, insofar as painting in particular, is almost nonexistent, but I suspect there have been as many or more in the same time frame. Nevertheless, Renaissance era art didn’t necessarily treat it in the same way. Many scenes were what we would regard today as flat, or if they have contrast, many seemed unrealistic. That isn’t to say photo-realism (a term that obviously didn’t exist at the time) was the goal of the painters, though some appeared to aim at it. There was one artist, however, who seemed to master light — particularly dramatic lighting — before many others: Caravaggio

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