The Austrian painter Paul Troger, heavily influenced by Italian painting and known mainly as a frescoist, most likely executed Saint Peter and Simon Magus as a cartoon for an altarpiece painting that is lost today and that he made for the former Premonstratensian monastery in Hradisch, Moravia. Depicted from a low vantage point, the scene stems from the non-canonical Acta Petri et Pauli, written ca. AD 180–200, which enjoyed particular popularity in the Baroque era because it afforded the opportunity of creating highly dramatic scenes. A ray of light falls upon Peter, whose gaze and gesture turn towards Heaven, whereas Paul is shown explaining to a pagan priest why the magician Simon, in answer to his prayer, is falling from Heaven, damned by the Devil. Through the act of flying, the latter wanted to prove his god-like nature to Emperor Nero, who remains here in the darkness of his throne. Consequently, Saint Peter and Simon Magus may be interpreted as representing the victory of faith over magic. In addition, it reveres Peter and Paul, who, as the Roman soldier armed with a spear signals, will be killed soon afterwards, during the persecution of the Christians in Rome.


  • Title: Saint Peter and Simon Magus
  • Creator: Paul Troger
  • Date Created: c. 1743
  • Physical Dimensions: 82.0 x 48.5 cm
  • Type: painting
  • Rights: Kunsthalle Bremen - Der Kunstverein in Bremen
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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