oilpainting: 117,2 cm x 135,2 cm

The conversion of St Matthew was a popular theme in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Marinus van Reymerswale painted several versions of the subject. The version here is a copy by Van Reymerswale of a slightly older work from the Thyssen collection in Madrid. The date of the work, 14th May 1536, is shown on a piece of paper behind Matthew, whose hands are folded in humility. Matthew, who later on became an apostle and evangelist, was originally a tax collector. Tax collectors were often regarded as extortionists and sinners. In his gospel we are told the story of his conversion. Van Reymerswale came from Zeeland and studied at Leuven University. He trained as a painter in Antwerp. His style is remarkable for its sharp and emotional linear qualities, the mannerist elongation of the figures and the realistic way in which the objects are painted. The depiction reflects the hustle and bustle of the collectors office at the time, with its piles of accounts, records and paper scrolls.