Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Calling of Matthew

Workshop of Jan Sanders van Hemessen (Netherlandish, active by ca. 1524–died ca. 1564)
Oil on wood
43 7/8 x 59 1/2 in. (111.4 x 151.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, 1871
Accession Number:
Not on view
Van Hemessen executed several versions of this painting, which illustrates the moment Matthew turned from tax collecting to following Christ as an apostle. Van Hemessen was among the earliest Netherlandish artists to exploit the genre character of biblical subjects, and the exaggerated poses of these Italianate figures are typical of his work.
?by descent to comte Martin Cornet de Ways Ruart, Brussels (until d. 1870); [Étienne Le Roy, Brussels, through Léon Gauchez, Paris, until 1870, as Martin van Heemskerck; sold to Blodgett]; William T. Blodgett, Paris and New York (1870–71; sold half share to Johnston); William T. Blodgett, New York, and John Taylor Johnston, New York (1871; sold to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Taste of the Seventies," April 2–September 10, 1946, no. 25.

Indianapolis. John Herron Art Museum. "Holbein and His Contemporaries," October 22–December 24, 1950.

Étienne Le Roy and Léon Gauchez. Letter. 1870, ascribe this picture to Marten van Heemskerk [see Ref. Wehle and Salinger 1947].

F[ritz von]. Harck. "Berichte und Mittheilungen aus Sammlungen und Museen, über staatliche Kunstpflege und Restaurationen, neue Funde: Aus amerikanischen Galerien." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 11 (1888), p. 74, attributes it to an artist working in Heemskerck's style.

Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta Salinger. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Early Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings. New York, 1947, pp. 149–50, ill., catalogue it as by Jan Sanders van Hemessen and comment on its resemblence to Hemessen's painting of this subject in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich, signed and dated 1536.

Paul Wescher. "Jan van Hemessen und Jan van Amstel." Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen 12 (1970), p. 53, relates it to Hemessen's picture of the subject in Vienna [Kunsthistorisches Museum].

Grace A. H. Vlam. "The Calling of Saint Matthew in Sixteenth-Century Flemish Painting." Art Bulletin 59 (December 1977), p. 568, fig. 12, ascribes it to Hemessen but notes that the sense of tension in the Munich picture, with its overloaded composition and busy drapery folds, is missing here; discusses the significance of the subject in 16th-century Flanders, calling the two men writing in account books "representative of unregenerate mankind"; notes that the young girl who tries to hold Matthew back is "obviously a character from a scene of the Prodigal Son" and observes that she appears in almost the same pose in "The Temptation", also by Van Hemessen, in the Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe.

William H. Halewood. Six Subjects of Reformation Art: A Preface to Rembrandt. Toronto, 1982, pp. 24, 29–30, fig. 7.

Introduction by Walter A. Liedtke in Flemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Flemish Paintings in the Public Collections of North America. Antwerp, 1992, p. 340, no. 265, ill., as by Hemessen.

Maryan W. Ainsworth. "A Meeting of Sacred and Secular Worlds." From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, pp. 327, 408, ill., ascribes it to the workshop of Hemessen.

Katharine Baetjer. "Buying Pictures for New York: The Founding Purchase of 1871." Metropolitan Museum Journal 39 (2004), pp. 202, 245, appendix 1A no. 44, ill.

The present picture is a workshop copy of Hemessen's Calling of Matthew in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich. The latter work is signed and dated 1536. Other variants of fine quality, possibly by Hemessen himself, are in the National Museum of Art in Bucharest, Romania, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.
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