The Conversion of Saint Paul
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Taddeo Zuccaro
Italian, about 1560
Pen and brown ink, brush with brown wash, black chalk, and lead white heightening on blue paper
10 5/16 x 15 9/16 in.

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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.