Caravaggio, Death of St. Matthew Essay

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Caravaggio, Death of St. Matthew

Michelangelo de Caravaggio is one of the most renowned and popular artists of the Baroque Period. In fact, many paintings from this period, as well as after have been described as “Caravagesque.” Caravaggio’s works are some of the most popular in Italy, as well as around the world, and have been put into there own stylistic group. In his painting, the Martyrdom of St. Matthew, there contains certain characteristics that make the painting easily recognizable to a connoisseur of fine paintings. This paper will discuss some background of this artist’s life, the content of the work, some ideas that it portrays and contains, and a visual description of the painting. Michelangelo Amerigi, known in
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“When he heard these words, the king was consumed with rage, and went out of the church. After the Mass, the king sent a swordsman, who came behind Matthew as he stood at the altar with his hands raised to Heaven in prayer, drove a sword into his back, and consummated the apostle’s martyrdom (death). This story was not written into the Bible, since the Gospels were written before Matthew traveled to Ethiopia as a missionary. That being the case, the story is recounted from the book the Golden Legend.

Another characteristic of Caravaggio's work was his use of light and dark. The Death of St. Matthew is dark overall, with a mysterious light source that eliminates the actual death of the Saint. This mysterious glow brings a religious feel to the painting and along with that gives the story a more powerful expression. Shadows and space are used very carefully to give a sense of immediacy to the scene. The figures around the murder all seem to be backing away from the action in different ways, which helps centralize the important part of the scene. This use of geometric placing of objects shows that he has not totally gotten away from earlier classical artistic methods.

This painting also contains natural looking figures and objects, which help give some realism to the story. Grimaces on the face of Matthew, as well as the swordsman, and onlookers depict the reality of experiencing such a terrible occurrence. Flesh is

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