DBD 05-27-2022: Matthew

Caravaggio’s “Calling of St. Matthew” (1599) depicts Matthew 9:9. Caravaggio depicts Matthew the tax collector sitting at a custom-house table with four other men. Jesus and Saint Peter have entered the room, and Jesus is pointing at Matthew - inspiring him to follow him. A beam of light illuminates the faces of the men at the table who are looking at Christ, who is painted with the least detail.

This painting is a transitional period - between the exaggerated idealization of Mannerism (eg, the large head/hands and muscularity of Michaelangelo’s David) period of the 16th century toward Baroque. However, the style is more naturalistic and hadn’t yet adopted the high-energy, high-contrast vibrancy that the Catholic Church commissioned to contrast against Protestant simplicity (eg, Dutch masters).

The painting is currently located in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome.