The Dining Room, Opus 152,
Painted by Paul Signac (1863-1935),
Painted circa 1886/1887,
Oil on canvas
© Kröller Müller Museum, Netherlands / Alamy
Feast of Saint Matthew
As Jesus was walking on, he saw a man named Matthew sitting by the customs house, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him.
While he was at dinner in the house it happened that a number of tax collectors and sinners came to sit at the table with Jesus and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your master eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When he heard this he replied, ‘It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the words: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice. And indeed I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.’
Reflection on the painting
In our Gospel reading today, we read about Jesus having a celebratory meal, possibly in the house of Matthew the tax collector who had just responded to Jesus’ unexpected call to become one of his close followers. Present at this meal were people like Matthew, tax collectors and some disciples. What were they celebrating? They were celebrating God’s forgiveness and God’s mercy, calling everyone to follow him. They were all celebrating the amazing news that they all belonged among God’s family.
Just as we would do nowadays, they celebrated a special event by gathering friends around a table. Dining together is sharing intimacy. Dining together creates a bond.
Our painting is by Paul Signac, circa 1886. Signac wanted to become a writer at first but decided to take up painting after seeing Claude Monet’s first impressionist paintings. He was entirely self taught. In 1884 Signac and Georges Seurat did research into colour and the effects of colour contrasts. They developed a new style of painting that later became known as pointillism. The technique consisted of mixing primary colours with white only and applying these directly – in small dots – onto the canvas. The colours merge together in the eye of the observer only when seen from a distance. In our painting entitled The Dining Room, Signac used mainly blue-yellow and orange-green as contrasting and complementary colours. The figures (his mother, grandfather and the housemaid) are shown frontally or in profile and are standing or sitting motionless, without showing any expression. They have not been portrayed, but are painted as types, as examples of a timeless bourgeoisie.
Happy Feast of Saint Matthew!
Share this Gospel Reading
Did you like this Gospel reading and art reflection?
Join in the discussion about this artwork & Gospel reading
Readings related to Matthew 9:9-13
Join our community
In addition to receiving our Daily Gospel Reading and Art Reflection, signing up for a free membership allows you to: