The Calling of Saint Matthew is a painting completed in 1599-1600 by the famous Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. This large-scale oil painting depicts the moment when Jesus Christ inspires Matthew to follow him and become one of his apostles. Caravaggio’s usage of tenebrism and chiaroscuro brings a dramatic effect, defining his revolutionary style and influencing painters all over Europe known as Caravaggism.
The painting is set in a poorly lit tavern space where several figures are gathered around a table. The bright light coming from the window highlights their faces, especially those involved in this holy moment. Being part of a commission for the Contarelli Chapel, it has its companion piece “The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew.”
Caravaggio’s focus on capturing physical reality rather than descriptive naturalism brought more realism to his representation. He masterfully juxtaposes Matthew’s uncertainty with Jesus Christ’s high certainty at this instant, bringing an emotional connection with the viewer while enhancing its religious significance.
Overall, “The Calling Of Saint Matthew” showcases Caravaggio’s mastery in chiaroscuro and tenebrism techniques that established him as one of the greatest painters during that time.