Paolo Veronese

Conversion of Saul

Conversion of Saul
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Paolo Veronese
Painting, Oil on canvas, 191x329 cm
Origin: Italy, Circa 1570

Man's spiritual transfiguration became a popular subject in late 16th-century Italian art, one of the most common treatments being the story of Saul . Saul was an unbending enemy of Christian teachings who, on the road to Damascus where he was to lead the persecution of the Christians, was suddenly struck to the ground and blinded by a bright ray of light. He heard the voice of God addressing him from the sky, and then he was converted to Christianity, taking the name of Paul and becoming an apostle.

In Veronese's painting, Saul's figure, lying on the ground where he fell from his horse, is perceived as a sort of epicentre of an explosion: all around people are flying from him, horses rearing, trees bending. The frame cannot limit the stormy movement and a number of figures seem even to be partly outside it. This sense that the painting is in fact a still, a frozen element in a moving panorama, was found in a number of Veronese's works and was the forerunner of the approach which was to become widespread in the Baroque period.

Personage: St Paul, Apostle
Style: Renaissance
Source of entry: Collection of of Count Widman, Venice, acquired before 1783
School: Venetian
Theme: The Bible and Christianity

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