Caracciolo was born in Naples. His initial training was with Francesco Imparato. Caravaggio arrived there in late 1606 after killing a man in a brawl in Rome. His stay in the city lasted only about eight months, with another brief visit in 1609/1610, yet his impact on artistic life there was profound. Battistello, only a few years younger than Caravaggio, was among the first there to adopt the startling new style with its sombre palette, dramatic tenebrism, and sculptural figures in a shallow picture plane defined by light rather than by perspective. Among the Neapolitan Caravaggisti were Giuseppe Ribera, Carlo Sellitto, Artemisia Gentileschi, and Caracciolo's pupil, Mattia Preti, then early in his career.
Among the earliest works showing the influence of Caravaggio was the Liberation of St Peter (1608-09), painted for the same church (Chiesa del Monte della Misericordia) and a couple of years after the master's The Seven Acts of Mercy. His painting became more polished after a trip to Rome in 1614, by which time he had become the leader of the new Neapolitan school, dividing his time between religious subjects (altarpieces and, unusually for a Caravaggist, frescos) and paintings for private patrons.
After 1618 he visited Genoa, Rome and Florence. In Rome he came under the influence of the revived Classicism of the Carracci cousins and the Emilian school, and began working towards a synthesis of their style with his own tenebrism - his Cupid, with its bravura handling of the red cloth, shows the influence of the Carracci synthesis. Back in Naples, he translated this into grandiose, wide-ranging scenes frescos including his masterpiece The Washing of the Feet of 1622, painted for the Certosa di San Martino. He also painted further works in Santa Maria La Nova and San Diego all Ospedaletto.