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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, (1571  1610)  The Inspiration of Saint Matthew  Oil on canvas, 1602  292 cm × 186 cm (115 in × 73 in)  San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome, Italy
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Title: The Inspiration of St.Matthew
Description:

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, (1571 1610)
The Inspiration of Saint Matthew
Oil on canvas, 1602
292 cm × 186 cm (115 in × 73 in)
San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome, Italy

The Inspiration of Saint Matthew (1602) is a painting by the Italian master Caravaggio. Commissioned by the French Cardinal Matteo Contarelli, the canvas hangs in Contarelli chapel altar in the church of the French congregation San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome, Italy. It is one of three Caravaggio canvases in the chapel: hanging between the larger earlier canvases of The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew, and The Calling of Saint Matthew. This was not an easy commission for Caravaggio, and at least two of the three paintings had to be either replaced or repainted to satisfy his patron, the Cardinal Del Monte.

It is instructive to compare the two versions of the latter painting to see how provocative and controversial Caravaggio was in his time. Unfortunately, the first, rejected, version of this theme was destroyed in World War II, and we only have black and white reproductions [1]. In the first version, the angel invades St Matthew's personal space and indulges in what appears more an erotic nudging than divine inspiration. The nubile angel intertwines with the old man, apparently whispering inspiration into his ear. The rejected painting can be compared to the earlier Caravaggio canvas of the Rest on the Flight into Egypt.

In the work featured on the altar, the angel belongs to an aerial and sublime dimension, enveloped in an encircling rippled sheet. The restless Matthew leans to work, as the angel enumerates for him the work to come. All is darkness but for the two large figures. Matthew appears to have rushed to his desk, his stool teetering into our space. His expression is sober.

It is thought the contemporary styles of Caravaggio and Carracci were at odds with each other, and non overlapping. In this light it is instructive to compare and contrast a similar canvas, by Carracci's pupil, Giovanni Lanfranco presently in Piacenza as well as a painting on a similar theme by Rembrandt.
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Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, (1571  1610)  Saint Jerome in Meditation  Oil on canvas, 	c. 1605  118 cm × 81 cm (46 in × 32 in)  Museo del Monasterio de Santa Maria, Monserrat, Catalonia, SpainMichelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, (1571  1610)  The Inspiration of Saint Matthew  Oil on canvas, 1602  292 cm × 186 cm (115 in × 73 in)  San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome, ItalyMichelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, (1571  1610)  Supper at Emmaus  Oil on canvas, 1601  141 cm × 196,2 cm  National Gallery, London, United Kingdom
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