The Calling of St. Matthew, an oil painting on canvas, was painted around 1599-1600 and is located in the Contarelli Chapel in Rome, Italy. The Calling of Saint Matthew is huge--ten and a half feet tall by eleven feet wide. The painting was created for this space and has been on display for over 410 years.
Known for having murdered a man in a street fight, Caravaggio's paintings, like the painter himself, bring drama to life. Caravaggio's works, including The Calling of Saint Matthew, display a virtuoso emotional and physical realism never before seen in painting.
Caravaggio struggled to find patrons, but in 1595 his work was brought to the attention of an avid art collector, Cardinal del Monte. He bought Caravaggio’s The Cardsharps and went on to buy a number of Caravaggio’s other works, including The Fortune Teller. He lodged him in his household at the Palazzo Madama, where Caravaggio also painted Rest on the Flight into Egypt, and the Ecstasy of Saint Francis. Cardinal del Monte helped Caravaggio secure what would be the most important commission of his life.
The series includes two other paintings: The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew and the Inspiration of Saint Matthew. Placed alongside one another they form a brief, but the complete biography of the saint. The paintings, Caravaggio’s first public commission, are considered fundamentally important to launching his career.
Without the skies parting or angels singing, the Saint Matthew figure in The Calling of Saint Matthew the has the ultimate “come to Jesus” moment, the light falling from the right of the painting and Christ's hand tell the story: Matthew has been summoned. Matthew was well known for being a tax collector, a most despised profession, reviled by Jesus himself and this painting served as a reminder to the viewer that Christ came "Not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew himself seems surprised to be summoned.
The Calling of Saint Matthew is dark yet bold. With this series, Caravaggio's works become larger, more somber in coloring and seriously ecclesiastical, as opposed to his earlier The Cardsharps or Gypsy Fortune Teller, which are brighter, in both palette and tone.
The characters in The Calling of Saint Matthew wear a fancy dress from Caravaggio’s day. He did not paint the characters as idealized figures of the Renaissance; he has set them in a contemporary-for-the-time place, giving the characters a vivid immediacy.
Two figures balance out the composition on the right, a heavier looking man, with short hair: this is Saint Peter. Half-obscured, the younger more delicate figure is Christ. He is different from the other characters, his gestures more delicate and otherworldly. He is the most hidden and is identifiable by a subtle halo.
On the right, in the center, is one of Caravaggio’s typical figures, youth, similar to the men in The Musicians and The Lute Player—it is said the artist always paints himself, and here it may be true. In the group on the left, Matthew's pointing finger seems somewhat ambiguous--is Matthew pointing to himself or the young man counting coins next to him? The moment is purposefully ambiguous, as only real life can be.
The viewer is witnessing a moment of conversion, an awakening, a typical subject in the baroque art. The divine enters everyday life, as in Amigoni’s The Vision of Saint Theresa. This work takes the Renaissance one step further, realistic looking people, set in a realistic environment. Caravaggio uses light and shadow to dramatic effect, pushing the shadows to black and bathing the subjects in what he called, “the light of God.” The Calling of Saint Matthew is done in what will become classic Caravaggio style--using black, brown and other earth tones to depict subjects during a moment of profound internal struggle. With this Saint Matthew series, his first large-scale commission, he establishes himself as an artist with a singular style that will become its school. He never lacked patronage again.
Peter-Paul Rubens, Caravaggio’s contemporary and one of the great masters himself, advised his friends to buy the street brawler's works.
Real Oil Paints, Real Brushes, Real Artists, Real Art. The Certificate of Authenticity which arrives with every painting provides an assurance and verifies the authenticity of the hand painted fine art reproduction you purchased. Each oil painting is created by hand using only the finest canvas and oil paints available.
Important Notes About Your Painting:
If you have any request to alter your reproduction of The Calling of Saint Matthew, you must email us after placing your order and we'll have an artist contact you. If you have another image of The Calling of Saint Matthew that you would like the artist to work from, please include it as an attachment. Otherwise, we will reproduce the above image for you exactly as it is.
Free shipping is included in the price of the painting. Once the painting is ready and dry enough to ship, we will roll it and ship it in a sturdy cardboard tube.
We always ship express via courier to ensure your order reaches you as soon as possible - normally within three business days. The total delivery time from the moment you place your order until the package is delivered to your door is normally between three to four weeks.
If, in the unlikely event you were dissatisfied with the painting after reviewing it in person, it can be returned for a full refund for up to 365 days after delivery.
When you receive the painting; you are free to return it for more revisions or else for a full refund minus our actual shipping cost -- which is, on average, $25 per painting.
1st Art Gallery provides a full warranty covering manufacturing and material defects for paintings purchased from our website. The warranty covers damage for normal use. Damage caused by incidents such as accidents or inappropriate use are not covered.
Depending on the degree of damage to the warranted painting, it will either be repaired or replaced. This warranty service is provided free of charge.