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Martyrdom of the Apostle Matthew - Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. 1599-1600
This large dramatic canvas was written in 1599-1600. for the chapel of Contarelli in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome. The saint’s helplessly hanging hand and bizarrely lit figures in the foreground bring the viewer's eyes directly to the scene of violence. The lighting of the two central figures underlines the powerful contrast of the executioner's muscular body and the old man helplessly spread on the ground in the clothes of a priest. The body of Matthew with arms spread to the side forms a cross at the executioner's feet. An invisible executioner angel extends to the saint a palm branch, a symbol of martyrdom, which he is trying to grab.
ST MATTHEW. The attribute of the Apostle Matthew, or Levi, is an angel with wings. Matthew was a tax collector for Roman authority. But once Christ turned to him "and says to him: Follow me." And he stood up and followed Him. " There is no confirmed evidence of his future life, but legend 2 tells us that he preached in Ethiopia, where the king began to harass a simple Christian girl. Matthew condemned him for the encroachment on the bride of Christ and as a result died a martyrdom from the sword. Masters of painting depict Matthew, as a rule, writing his gospel, usually under the guidance of an angel. With him there may be coins or a wallet - attributes of his former craft; in Florence, Matthew was considered the patron saint of money changers and bankers.