OIL PAINTING: The Inspiration of Saint Matthew, 1602
Caravaggio painted two versions of this religios work.
The first version of The Inspiration of Saint Matthew and the Angel was purchased by Marchese Vincenzo Giustiniani and then ended up in Berlin, where it was destroyed in the Second World War. The second version (this picture) still stands over the altar today.
The first version was a masterpiece of Caravaggio. It contained, in the angel who with gentle indulgence guided the saint's uncertain hand as he wrote, one of the most charming figures ever painted by the artist. The first painting was criticised for Matthew's lack of decorum. In the final version, likewise a splendid feat of imagination but certainly less fascinating than the first, the angel much more correctly counts on his fingers, in the traditional scholastic fashion, the arguments than the saint should take note of and develop. A whirlwind of drapery envelops the angel. The saint balances on his bench, in precarious equilibrium, like a modern schoolboy; but this time the unorthodox elements do not seem to have raised particular objections.