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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio The Calling of Saint Mathew - Research Paper Example

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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio The Calling of Saint Mathew

It is understood that a painting is incomplete without knowledge of its background. Further, interpretations of a painting vary between people and with time and it is the contradictory interpretations in paintings that makes the painting interesting and often lend an element of mystery towards it. The painting discussed in this paper is also not without its special context and interpretations. Discussion The painting, The Calling of Saint Mathews is a masterpiece that was commissioned by the church to be hanged within the Contraelli Chapel located inside the Church of San Luigi Dei Francesi. The chapel was meant to be an ode for Saint Mathews and for this Caravaggio was selected when the first choice of the church, Cavalier D’Arpino became busy with the royal patronage. This was probably the biggest church commission that Caravaggio got at that time. Therefore, he put all this time and energy into the creation of this masterpiece along with two others painting, the Martyrdom of Saint Matthews and The Inspiration of Saint Mathews. The painting till date hangs with other paintings depicting important moments in the life of Saint Mathews. The painting was completed in 1600. We have to understand that this was a time when the church was in power. It had the money to fund biblical paintings. The Calling of Saint Mathews is a painting representing an important biblical sense. The painting takes reference from Luke 5:27-28, which reads: ‘And after that He went out and noticed a tax collector named Levi sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, ‘Follow me’. And he left everything behind, and got up and began to follow him’ (Benner, 124) The painting, quite like many produced in the same era, is full of religious symbols. The painting, primarily, symbolizes the difference between Christ and Matthews. In this respect, the picture can be divided into two parts: one part showing Christ and Peter while the other depicting Mathews and his companies. Both these parts are in stark contrast with each other. Christ and Peter represent spirituality. They do so through their simple clothing and the fact they do not wear any shoes. The absence of footwear reflects on the fact that these men are down to earth without any love for material objects. Mathews and his companions reflect the worldly life. This is apparent in the way they dress: fashionably in the attire that was trend during the time period when the painting was created. Also the presence of the coins and the preoccupation of some companions with the coins reflect on the worldly life enjoyed by Mathews and his companies (Benner, 129). Another symbol apparent in the painting is the way the painting has been divided into two parts. Here Caravaggio uses his typical style of chiaroscuro where he paints a stark contrast of light and dark in the painting (Cunningham and Reich, 360). Between Christ and Mathews, Caravaggio has painted a dark area and the hand of Christ extending towards the dark spot. The light in the picture comes from the side where Christ is standing. This play of light seems to be intentional on the part of the painter as he depicts Christ as a beacon of hope and light for Mathews while taking him away from a life of materialistic love and wastage. Also the dark spot between the two important figures symbolizes the fact that before Christ, people were left in darkness with no way to reach ...Show more
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[Name of Student] [Name of Professor] [Course] [Date] Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio “The Calling of Saint Mathew" Introduction The Calling of Saint Mathews is a masterpiece painting created by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. It is one of the first major painting created by Caravaggio and forms a series with two other painting depicting important scenes in the life of Saint Mathews…
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