Rome, 1600. In the shadowed cellars of Cardinal Del Monte’s palazzo, a shaft of light illuminates the face of Luca Passarelli. Across the room, behind an enormous canvas, the brilliant, mercurial artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio paints with sure brushstrokes Luca’s likeness into a new masterpiece. Caravaggio is both revered and reviled by his patrons as well as his fellow artists. His innovative paintings and his blazing temper have made him powerful friends, but also powerful enemies—enemies who are determined to quench the flame of his talent.