Title: The Calling of St Matthew
Media: Oil on canvas
Location: San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome
The painting depicts a dark tavern where a group of men dressed in contemporary attire have turned to face Christ, his right arm pointing towards St. Matthew. The light that follows Christ’s gesture, also highlights the expressions and gestures of the men, gives a dramatic sense of the arrival of the divine. The painting is one of three that Caravaggio created in a commission to depict the signature moments in the life of St Matthew. With the use of chiaroscuro, the work exhibits the realism and intense sense of psychological drama that distinguished Caravaggio’s work.
Born: 29 September 1571, Milan, Italy
Died: 18 July 1610, Porto Ercole, Italy
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was a painter active in Rome, Naples, Malta and Sicily from the early 1590s to 1610. His paintings combine realistic observation of the physical and emotional human state with a dramatic use of light and was a formative influence on Baroque painting.
He died in 1610 under uncertain circumstances while travelling from Naples to Rome. Traditionally it is said he died of syphilis or malaria; however, it is argued that Caravaggio was attacked and killed by Wignacourt Knights. Following carbon dating and DNA tests officials have confirmed that Caravaggio was buried in Porto Ercole, Italy.