Essay about Caravaggio's First Inspiration of St. Matthew

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Michelangelo Caravaggio, the great Baroque painter of the seventeenth century, was always an artist under scrutiny. His style, the subject matter of his paintings, and how he chose to depict his subjects, was often criticized and rejected by his patrons. In a journal article written by Troy Thomas, entitled "Expressive Aspects of Caravaggio's First Inspiration of Saint Matthew", these rejected paintings are discussed. The article focuses on the themes of these rejected works, but namely Inspiration of St. Matthew, and uses these themes to prove the work's validity. This painting is compared and contrasted to other similar, accepted works of the time as well, to help show that the work was not done in bad taste. Commissioned by …show more content…

Thomas mentions these aspects of the painting, but attributes them not to indecorousness, but to being an integral part of the message of the work. Thomas states that there are three important themes in the Inspiration of Saint Matthew: surprise, ignorance, and humility. These ideas were not reasons to reject the painting, but themes that gave the work a certain effect that was necessary to contemplate in order to understand. First, to address the issue of the offensive realism of Caravaggio, one must understand the artist. Caravaggio always said that he "could not paint what he had not seen." So, the use of models was extremely important to him. Possibly, the model that he had used was indeed, old and wrinkled. This representation of the aged Saint Matthew was not intended to be distasteful, but was probably due to the type of model that he had chosen to pose for the painting. Other artists, when depicting angelic figures, use diaphanous, ethereal angels or infant-like putti figures. Caravaggio, however, portrayed the angel as a pubescent boy, who looked more human than heavenly. This was also a reason to reject the work, since the angel had a certain erotic quality, which was deemed inappropriate for a religious painting. The substantiality of the body of the angel is also due to Caravaggio's style of

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