Piazza di San Luigi dei Francesi 5
Daily from 9:30am (11:30 on Sunday) to 12:45pm and from 2:30pm to 6:30pm
The Church of San Luigi dei Francesi or Saint Louis of the French, near Piazza Navona, is the catholic church dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the Saint Denis, the patron saint of France, designed and built between 1518 and 1589 by Domenico Fontana and Giacomo della Porta. The façade was designed by Giacomo as a piece of decorative work entirely independent from the body of the structure, a method which was later copied by many other artists. The church’s most famous treasures are the three major paintings by Baroque Master Caravaggio about the life of Saint Matthew: The Calling of St Matthew (on the left wall), The Inspiration of Saint Matthew (above the altar), The Martyrdom of Saint Matthew (on the right wall). Inside the church his paintings acquire an increasingly dramatic feature made of lights and shadows.
It is interesting to compare the two versions of The Inspiration of Saint Matthew (1602) and see how provocative and controversial Caravaggio was in his time. Unfortunately, the first and rejected version of this theme was destroyed during World War 2. We only have black and white reproductions. In the first version, named Saint Matthew and the Angel, the angel stands close to Matthew the Evangelist and it seems he was really helping the saint and not only giving him a divine inspiration. Great art outside of a museum.
Recommended by Alessandra Invitti