The Conversion of Saint Paul

Taddeo Zuccari1558 / 1559 - 1566

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

Taddeo Zuccaro captured the dramatic moment when a sudden light from heaven blinded Saint Paul. The saint lies prostrate on the ground while one servant tends to him and another flees the scene in terror, shielding his eyes from the piercing light as he runs. His horse, too, has fallen down and clambers awkwardly to its feet. Paul had been on the road to Damascus to obtain authorization from the synagogue to arrest Christians when he was suddenly struck by the brilliant light and converted to Christianity. The artist sketched the figures first with black chalk, then went over their outline in brown ink. Fine strokes of lead white heightening create the textures of muscles and fabrics while providing a delicate contrast to the blue tone of the paper. Zuccaro drew this preparatory study for the lower section of a now much-damaged altarpiece in a chapel in Rome. He worked in the chapel from around 1557 until his death nine years later, painting frescoes from the life of Saint Paul.

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  • Title: The Conversion of Saint Paul
  • Creator: Taddeo Zuccaro
  • Date: 1558 / 1559 - 1566
  • Location Created: Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: 26.2 x 39.5 cm (10 5/16 x 15 9/16 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Pen and brown ink, brush with brown wash, black chalk, and lead white heightening on blue paper
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Object Type: Drawing
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 91.GA.13
  • Markings: Markings: At lower edge, partial collection mark.
  • Inscription: Secondary Inscription: At lower edge, partial inscription.
  • Display Location: Not currently on view
  • Department: Drawings
  • Culture: Italian
  • Classification: Drawings