The Calling of Saint Matthew

Giovanni Battista Caracciolo Italian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 620

The Neapolitan painter Caracciolo was deeply influenced by Caravaggio, who worked in Naples in 1606–7 and 1610. Among Caravaggio’s innovations were half-length narrative subjects such as this, in addition to his celebrated, bold contrasts of light and shadow. Caracciolo’s work depicts the moment when Jesus asks Matthew, an avaricious tax collector, to renounce his worldly possessions and follow him. Jesus’s gaze and outward gesture present the viewer with the same quandary as Matthew: whether to embrace Christ’s invitation or to take the money bag held within our reach at canvas’s lower edge.

The Calling of Saint Matthew, Giovanni Battista Caracciolo (Italian, Naples 1578–1635 Naples), Oil on canvas

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