One of my favorite paintings in the world is Caravaggio'sÂ The Calling of St. Matthew. Â Now located inÂ San Luigi dei Francesi near the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, this and two other Caravaggios hang, free and open to the puplic to view. Â Clustered in a far corner, when I saw them, the only sound was the occasional coin being dropped into the box to activate the light. Â A hushed awe.
Caravaggio was a bit of a rake. Â Born in 1571 in Milan, he was a brawler, a gambler, constantly in trouble with the law, the church, and just in general. Â He supposedly killed a young man in 1606 and fled to Rome. Â By 1610 he was dead at the age of 38.
Master of the used ofÂ chiaroscuro,light and shadow, his paintings resonate with a luinosity and drama that I love. Â His work also shows naturalism, which was radical at the time.
What I love about "The Calling of St. Matthew" is that the figure to the left of the painting, head lowered, a total and complete depraved rake, is the figure being called by the Christ at the door, finger pointing directly at the young man.
That rake....is Caravaggio.