ter Brugghen, Calling of Saint Matthew

Hendrick ter BRUGGHEN (1588-1629), Calling of Saint Matthew, ca. 1620, oil on canvas, 153.5 x 195 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Charles Maslard
Hendrick ter BRUGGHEN (1588-1629)
Calling of Saint Matthew
ca. 1620
oil on canvas
153.5 x 195 cm
© MuMa Le Havre / Charles Maslard
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Born in The Hague to a Protestant family, likely in 1588, Hendrick ter Brugghen moved to Utrecht in 1615 after a long sojourn in Italy. Influenced by the work of Caravaggio and Orazio Gentileschi, he quickly proved to be the city's most talented painter.

The Calling of Saint Matthew, painted by Caravaggio in 1599–1600 for the Contarelli Chapel in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome, inspired three of ter Brugghen’s compositions. The work in Le Havre, undoubtedly painted around 1620, borrows from the Italian master the motif of Christ calling Levi, the tax collector who becomes Saint Matthew, to abandon everything and join the apostles. The gesture of Christ, the surprise of Matthew, the postures of his plebeian-looking companions and the contrasted lighting of the scene call to mind Caravaggio's Roman model. The dense composition, framed around the figures, the artist's interest in anecdotal details and the hardy features of the models nevertheless betray his attachment to traditional northern formulae.

Painted in 1621, another Calling of Saint Matthew, at the museum in Utrecht, shows the rapid evolution of ter Brugghen's work towards a stronger and yet more personal Caravaggism, with a monumental and elaborate style that justifies the admiration he received from his contemporaries, Rubens in particular, and his position as leader of the Utrecht Caravaggisti.

Artworks in context : 15th-18th century (6)

Simon VOUET (1590-1649), The Entombment, ca. 1636-1638, oil on canvas, 149.8 x 151.4 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Hendrick ter BRUGGHEN (1588-1629), Calling of Saint Matthew, ca. 1620, oil on canvas, 153.5 x 195 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Charles Maslard
Hubert ROBERT (1733-1808), The Fire of Rome, vers 1771, oil on canvas, 75.5 x 93 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Jusepe de RIBERA (1591-1652), Saint Sebastian, oil on canvas, 226 x 173.5 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Ludolf  BACKHUYSEN I (1630-1708), Seascape and Fishing Boats, oil on canvas, 84.5 x 97.3 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Anonyme, Descent from the Cross, ca. 1450-1500, oil on wood, 71 x 59 cm. Don Augustin-Normand, 2007. © MuMa Le Havre / Charles Maslard