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Conversion of Saint Paul (recto)
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Conversion of Saint Paul (recto)


Parmigianino (1503-1540)

Pen and ink, wash, bodycolour (white) on paper

Width: 33 cm; Height: 23.6 cm;

Acquisition (source, method, date)
Seilern, Antoine (Count); bequest; 1978

About this work
(recto) This highly finished ink drawing depicts the dramatic moment in the biblical narrative when the fervent persecutor of Christians Saul converts to Christianity. Struck from his horse, Saul turns towards the voice of Christ who

suddenly appears from the heavens. Saul’s accompanying soldiers step back from the apparition while one figure strains to help his horse to its feet. Through careful application of wash and highlighting Parmigianino creates a dynamic scene composed of highly modelled, muscular figures.

(verso) Within the story of the conversion of Saint Paul this image captures a slightly later scene than the one on the other side of the sheet. Here, Paul is shown responding to Christ, his kneeling posture and gesture already expressing submission to his new vocation. The broader, calmer use of wash corresponds to the less dramatic character of the composition. In the background, rolling hills and a linear representation of the city of Damascus foreshadow Paul’s symbolic

re-entry as a converted sinner. (Permanent collection label)

This work is not on display
While we make every effort to ensure this information is correct, displays are subject to last-minute changes.

Copyright: © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London

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