Detail: Calling of Matthew

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  • Oil on Canvas: 1599-1600
  • 322 x 340 cm
  • Contarelli Chapel, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome

This is a detail from the Calling of St. Matthew. It shows the tax-gatherer Levi at a table counting the day's proceeds.

Here Levi reacts to the sudden, if somewhat languid, outstretched hand of the Savior, a gesture all the more powerful because it seems to mild. Matthew, it implies, is perfectly free to reject the call.

Surprised by the intrusion and perhaps dazzled by the sudden light from the just-opened door, Levi draws back and gestures toward himself with his left hand as if to say, "Who, me?", his right hand remaining on the coin he had been counting before Christ's entrance.


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