Reactions » Caravaggio, “The Calling of St. Matthew”

Caravaggio, “The Calling of St. Matthew”, 1599-1600, Oil on canvas

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5 thoughts on “Reactions » Caravaggio, “The Calling of St. Matthew”

  1. Christ’s presence is only slightly defined and most of the visual emphasis is laid on Matthew by using the lighting. My take on this is that Christ’s presence in the world is often a subtle one (I for one have never seen a fiery angel), and though we see him clearly when we are very observant most often we see his workings through his followers. I also like the uncertainty of Matthew, like he is saying “Who me? A tax collector?”

    I do wonder about the differecne in clothing styles though.

  2. Great piece, thought-provoking. The image of Peter seems to be an addition…I’d like to see more of Jesus. Matthew seems totally surprised. Was Jesus pointing at all of them, or only Matthew?

  3. Imagine what the artist would do with this scene today. Jesus and Peter would remain the same, in their timeless robes. At the table would be, perhaps, Brooks Brothers-clad stockbrokers, or perhaps people at a gaimng table in Las Vegas. The point is to bring the viewer into the drama. I think!

  4. Insightful observation Jacob. Ben Quash doesn’t fail to notice the same (See my recent post, Discerning God’s Presence).

    I wonder, Bill, if placing Peter in front of Jesus isn’t Caravaggio’s way of making reference to the Roman Church. In doing so, perhaps he hints at the importance of the church for apprehending Jesus. And, that Jesus’ call to “follow me” is given through his followers while remaining Jesus’ call nonetheless. Jesus’ calling is primary, the church’s derivative and always referential to Jesus’ own.

    I have been puzzling over this image for about a month now and find Caravaggio confronting me with a question: “Who am I at the table?” I can’t tear my eyes off the young man at the end who is so preoccupied with his coins that he doesn’t even look up – or, maybe he did look up but prefers the coins. What are my coins?

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