The Conversion of Saint Paul

By juxtaposing Saint Paul's traumatic collapse with a poetic landscape setting, Wolf Huber heightened the inherent tension in one of the Bible's most dramatic stories. The idyllic atmosphere, the main figure's placement on a foreground stage, the large tree with abundant foliage, the delicate rendering of a mountainous background, and the elaborate, billowing drapery are all hallmarks of Huber's drawings. Possibly a preparatory sketch for a print, this drawing displays fine gradations of line that suggest light, texture, and space and show the influence of Albrecht Dürer. This sheet probably originally included God the Father and additional angels above the dove of the Holy Spirit but was cut down. One of Christianity's most ruthless oppressors, Saul was traveling to Damascus when a heavenly light struck him blind and Jesus spoke to him. Jesus commanded to take Christianity to non-Jews, and for the next thirty years, he was a pillar of the new Christian church within the Roman Empire. Marking his conversion, Saul became known as Paul, and the story of his conversion became a popular illustration of God's grace towards all people, even the least deserving.

Pen and black ink (1531)

by Wolf Huber (German, 1480/1485-1553)

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