With Caravaggio comes an unsurpassed ability to convey three dimensions with paint.
It’s not so much what he painted, which is almost always a subject less than admirable, as the way his subject was presented. He didn’t present his subjects so much as project them.
See how the figure of St Jerome emerges out of the darkness almost as a hologram—as a fully-rounded figure with a fully noble presence--that’s the imagery Caravaggio managed to convey in a two-dimensional canvas.
He had an unmatched talent put to a less than admirable use.