Saint Paul
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Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo
Italian, 1533
Black, white, and red chalk on blue paper
11 3/16 x 8 7/8 in.

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Using the dramatic effects of chiaroscuro, Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo created a brooding image of Saint Paul. To do this, he used a combination of black, white, and red chalk on blue paper--the paper favored by most Venetian artists during the 1500s and 1600s. As Saint Paul gazes down, the light touches his broad forehead, nose, and ear, showing his furrowed brow, gaunt cheeks, and thinning hair with forceful naturalism. His beard and mustache seem to absorb the light, obscuring his deeply shadowed mouth, neck, and shoulders. Set against a darkened background, the saint's head seems to rise out of the gloom. Although early church documents describe Paul as being short, bald, and ungainly, Savoldo gave him a sense of quiet dignity appropriate to one of the founders of the Christian Church