Fabritius painted portraits, genre scenes, and history and religious subjects. He was probably first trained by his brother, Carel, a student of Rembrandt. Rembrandt's direct influence can be traced to the 1640s, when Fabritius lived in Amsterdam. This intimate depiction of Saint Matthew writing under the guidance of an angel focuses on the Evangelist deep in concentration as he pauses to ponder the interpretation of the divinely inspired words dictated to him by the angel before committing them to paper. The painting may originally have been part of a cycle of half-length pictures of the four Evangelists. It also falls within the tradition of half-length character studies, so-called tronies, that were a specialty of other contemporary artists, including Rembrandt. The vibrant colouristic highlights, notably red and black, are characteristic of Fabritius' mature paintings, in which he looked to the palette of Rembrandt's pupil Maes.