Painter: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
Year: 1599 – 1600 A.D
Current Location of Painting: San Luigi dei Francesi , Rome
(Matthew 9:9): “Jesus saw a man named Matthew at his seat in the custom house, and said to him, “Follow me”, and Matthew rose and followed him.”
I am weak, for I don’t have better words to explain the mysticism of this painting. The inspiration for this painting comes from Bible. Look at the golden beam of light, falling as if from heavens. Now look at the scenario in that dark room. People sitting together, gambling!!The light is falling on the face of St. Mathew. Some might say that I have started my page on art from a mystical, fictional painting. But Caravaggio was a rebel, he wasn’t a Christian. This painting is a classic example of realism. Look closely at the dirty hands of the gamblers, the coins scattered on the table and that look of disbelief and wonder in St. Mathew’s eyes. This is a dirty world, a bad world, sinful and ungrateful to the son of God who laid his life for humanity. So, we don’t just need a pointed finger to accuse the guilty man, we need a strong beam of light. But who is that man, hiding in dark and yet standing so close to the source of that strong golden light? The man pointing his finger at Mathew; He is Christ himself. Jesus enters that room filled with low-lives. Most of them are too busy counting coins to even notice him. But Mathew does notices, for his life unlike others is also filled with a greater quest to rise above his miserable life. Christ is the savior of mankind and only those who yearn for him can even see him when he quietly enters their dark lives. This is what Caravaggio must have thought. His whole life was a fight in this great darkness of the society. He was a filthy drunkard, a gambler and womanizer. And yet the Roman Catholic Church commissioned him to paint for so many of their cathedrals. My dear friends, this is not the bible from the eyes of a priest. This is the Bible from the eyes of a sinner!!! This is Caravaggio’s hope and prayer for redemption.