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Caracciolo worked in the tradition of Caravaggio (1571-1610), whose distinctive use of dramatic contrasts of shadow and light (called chiaroscuro, light/dark), compressed space, and sensuous form constituted perhaps the greatest innovation in sixteenth-century Italian painting. Caracciolo's limited palette of deep red and dark earthen tones focuses our attention on the young St. John. The seductive immediacy of the casually posed saint asserts his physical reality rather than his divinity. Such sensuality in a religious figure would have been unthinkable a hundred years earlier.