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The Calling of Saint Matthew (Vocation de Saint Mathieu)

James Tissot

European Art

Jesus further shows his acceptance of those rejected by society by inviting Matthew—a publican, or toll collector—into his ministry, as he passes his booth. Not only were these tax collectors considered unscrupulous, but they were also particularly loathed by devout Jews for their status as representatives of the ruling Romans. Tissot has included camels and the hint of a wide-arched gate to underscore Matthew’s location at a geographical (and perhaps, spiritual) crossroads, as well as adding an Eastern flourish.

After Christ calls Matthew to his teachings, he takes a meal in the home of his new disciple, an act that occasions the suspicion of devout passersby. In answer to questions of his motives, Jesus merely replies that, like a physician, he heals the sick, not the healthy.
MEDIUM Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
  • Place Made: France
  • DATES 1886-1896
    DIMENSIONS Image: 10 1/4 x 6 5/8 in. (26 x 16.8 cm) Sheet: 10 1/4 x 6 5/8 in. (26 x 16.8 cm) Frame: 20 x 15 x 1 1/2 in. (50.8 x 38.1 x 3.8 cm)
    SIGNATURE Signed bottom left: "J.J. Tissot"
    COLLECTIONS European Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    ACCESSION NUMBER 00.159.91
    CREDIT LINE Purchased by public subscription
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