The Materialization of Divine Inspiration: Caravaggio's Two Depictions of Saint Matthew for the Contarelli Chapel in Rome

Auteur / Author: 
Gamble MADSEN (Mt. San Antonio College, États-Unis)
Mardi 23 Août 2011 - 13:30
15-1. Le soi imaginé


Religious art of the seventeenth century in Rome fell under the influence of a number of sources including the Counter-Reformation Church, individual patrons, and of course the creators of the works. This presentation will address how one artist — Caravaggio — sought to make a moment of divine inspiration visible to a Christian audience, and how his first innovative interpretation of that moment (c. 1602) was altered to reveal a second vision (c. 1602-1603) that was more “traditional” yet no less profound in its rendering of a unique connection between the human and divine realms. In addition to examining briefly the environment for which the paintings were originally intended (post-Tridentine Rome) as well as the reasoning behind the alteration of the altarpiece’s composition resulting in a second version of the painting, this paper will consider the manner in which the audience was meant to respond to both works. It is the theory of this paper that the artist sought to reveal his own struggles with creativity through the framework of his visualization of the Evangelist’s experience, and in turn that the Christian audience encountering these works was encouraged to ponder the manner in which it also grappled with a personal connection to God during a period of spiritual unrest.