Paintings in the Contarelli Chapel (1599-1600)
by CARAVAGGIO

In 1565 the French Monsignor Matteo Contarelli acquired a chapel in San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome, but when he died twenty years later it had not yet been decorated. The executor of his will, Virgilio Crescenzi, and later his son, Giacomo, undertook the task. The decorative scheme called for a statue of St Matthew and the Angel, commissioned first to Gerolamo Muziano, and then to the Flemish sculptor Cobaert, for the high altar; and for a fresco cycle for the walls and ceiling by Cavalier d'Arpino. The latter decorated the vault in 1591-93, but the walls were left bare. On 13 June 1599 a contract was stipulated before a notary by which Caravaggio undertook to execute two paintings for the lateral walls (The Calling of Saint Matthew and The Martyrdom of St Matthew), for which he was paid the following year (1600), after the paintings had been set in place. Later, on 7 February 1602, after Cobaert's statue had been judged unsatisfactory, an altarpiece was entrusted to Caravaggio in a separate contract that called for delivery of the work by 32 May, the Feast of the Pentecost. This painting was rejected, the artist made another one (which was accepted) in a surprisingly brief time, receiving payment for this second work on 22 September.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 8 minutes):
Johann Sebastian Bach: St. Matthew Passion BWV 244 (excerpts)

Preview Picture Data Info
Interior view of the chapel
1599-1600
Oil on canvas
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


Interior view of the chapel
1599-1600
Oil on canvas
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


The Calling of Saint Matthew
1599-1600
Oil on canvas, 322 x 340 cm
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


The Calling of Saint Matthew
1599-1600
Oil on canvas, 322 x 340 cm
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


The Calling of Saint Matthew (detail)
1599-1600
Oil on canvas, width of detail: 86 cm
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


The Calling of Saint Matthew (detail)
1599-1600
Oil on canvas, width of detail: 92 cm
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


The Calling of Saint Matthew (detail)
1599-1600
Oil on canvas
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


The Calling of Saint Matthew (detail)
1599-1600
Oil on canvas
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


The Calling of Saint Matthew (detail)
1599-1600
Oil on canvas, width of detail: 30 cm
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


The Calling of Saint Matthew (detail)
1599-1600
Oil on canvas
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


The Calling of Saint Matthew (detail)
1599-1600
Oil on canvas
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


The Calling of Saint Matthew (detail)
1599-1600
Oil on canvas
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


The Calling of Saint Matthew (detail)
1599-1600
Oil on canvas
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


The Martyrdom of St Matthew
1599-1600
Oil on canvas, 323 x 343 cm
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


The Martyrdom of St Matthew (detail)
1599-1600
Oil on canvas
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


The Martyrdom of St Matthew (detail)
1599-1600
Oil on canvas, width of detail: 90 cm
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


The Martyrdom of St Matthew (detail)
1599-1600
Oil on canvas, width of detail: 49 cm
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


The Martyrdom of St Matthew (detail)
1599-1600
Oil on canvas, width of detail: 49 cm
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


The Martyrdom of St Matthew (detail)
1599-1600
Oil on canvas, width of detail: 90 cm
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


The Martyrdom of St Matthew (detail)
1599-1600
Oil on canvas, width of detail: 90 cm
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


St Matthew and the Angel
1602
Oil on canvas, 232 x 183 cm
Formerly Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, Berlin


The Inspiration of Saint Matthew
1602
Oil on canvas, 296 x 189 cm
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome


The Inspiration of Saint Matthew (detail)
1602
Oil on canvas
Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome



Summary of works by Caravaggio
1593-96 | 1596-98 | 1598-1600 | 1600-03 | 1603-06 | 1606-07
1607 | 1607-09 | 1609-10 | Contarelli Chapel | Cerasi Chapel | Other



© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.