The Calling of Saint Matthew (1599-1600) by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

The Calling of Saint Matthew - Caravaggio - c.1600

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Calling of Saint Matthew
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions323 x 343 cm
Art MovementBaroque
Current LocationSan Luigi dei Francesi, Rome, Italy

About The Calling of Saint Matthew

The artwork titled “The Calling of Saint Matthew” was created by the celebrated artist Caravaggio around the year 1600. This oil on canvas painting is a significant example of the Baroque art movement. Its grand dimensions measure approximately 323 by 343 centimeters. As a religious painting, it portrays a pivotal moment in Christian narrative. The artwork is prominently displayed in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi, located in Rome, Italy.

“The Calling of Saint Matthew” is characterized by dramatic use of chiaroscuro, a technique that plays with sharp contrasts of light and darkness, which was a hallmark of Caravaggio’s style and common to the Baroque period. The composition captures the moment when Jesus Christ, standing to the right, points at Matthew, who is seated at a table with other figures engaged in counting coins, illustrating his role as a tax collector. The divine light entering from the painting’s right illuminates the scene, focusing on the figures’ expressions and the gesture of Christ. This directional light highlights the faces and gestures of the figures, drawing attention to their varied reactions to Jesus’s presence and the obvious astonishment of Matthew as he is chosen. The painting’s realistic portrayal and emotional intensity evoke a sense of immediacy, inviting viewers to ponder the transformative moment of Matthew’s recognition of his calling.

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