His paintings of an exotic and dangerous urban underclass proved irresistible to a whole movement of artists known as the Caravaggisti. At the turn of the sixteenth century Caravaggio was active in Rome, where he gained many followers. Among them was Orazio Gentileschi, who trained in an earlier tradition yet transformed his technique under the influence of Caravaggio. Cecco del Caravaggio also adopted Caravaggesque realism (depicting saints with dirty feet, for example), as well as the use of sharp raking light, deep shadows and the sculptural treatment of figures.
In 1606, Caravaggio killed a man in Rome, whereupon he fled to the Spanish-ruled city of Naples. He soon gained patronage there and attracted a strong following among fellow artists and his work subsequently affected the next generation of Neapolitan artists. These included the Spaniard Jusepe de Ribera who had settled in Naples in 1616. Ribera was drawn to Caravaggio’s rugged naturalism and dramatic use of lighting which he employed to great effect in the many church altarpieces that he was asked to paint. Ribera also received commissions directly from Spain, thus his influence spread to his homeland. He subsequently taught and influenced a host of Italian artists, including Luca Giordano.