The Calling of St. Matthew

Caravaggio, The Calling of St. Matthew (detail), circa 1600. Oil on canvas,  San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome.

In 1600, thanks to his friendship with pro-French groups, Caravaggio obtained the commission for three paintings on the Vocation and the Martyrdom of Saint Matthew. This first major commission of religious subjects marks the main turning point in his career, allowing him to demonstrate his ability to deal with this type of painting. The Calling of Saint Matthew illustrates the passage in the Gospel of Matthew when Jesus went into the customhouse, saw Matthew at his seat and called to him. Caravaggio chose to illustrate the moment when the summons has just been given and Matthew is still caught in suspended indecision.


A gospel is an account that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

A person deemed holy by a religious tradition, especially in Roman Catholicism.

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