The Contarelli Chapel within the church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome is home to three of Caravaggio’s spectacular masterpieces – (above) The Calling Of Saint Matthew, (directly below) The Inspiration Of Saint Matthew and (further below) The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew.
Caravaggio’s signature and sublime use of the Chiaroscuro technique both illuminate and obscure the characters in dramatic pools of light and shadow, creating striking three dimensional forms seemingly impossible to achieve on a flat, 2D plane. You have to see it to believe it.
Seeing so many of the master’s work was one of the best surprises on the trip. Together with the pieces at Uffizi, Galleria Borghese, Doria Pamphilj, Brera and Pinacoteca Vaticana, I must have seen about 15-20 of his paintings.
(above) The painting adorning the main altar is Francesco Bassano’s “The Assumption”, and while it receives noticeably less attention by visitors is nonetheless an impressive work of art.
(below) A pilgrim in prayer before a moody, candlelit Madonna.
The Church of San Luigi dei Francesi is located near Piazza Navona. The facade of the church is relatively austere and nondescript so it may be easy to miss, but the presence of Caravaggio’s three paintings is more than worth the effort in finding it.27