The Conversion of Saint Paul

Artist: Ludovico Carracci (Italian, Bologna 1555–1619 Bologna)

Date: ca. 1587–89

Medium: Pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash, highlighted with white gouache and cream color oil paint, over black chalk, on paper toned with light-brown wash

Dimensions: sheet: 22 3/8 x 13 5/8 in. (56.8 x 34.6 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Purchase, Rogers Fund and Gift of Dr. Mortimer D. Sackler, Theresa Sackler and Family, 2002

Accession Number: 2002.33

Description

This dazzling drawing by Ludovico Carracci is a new discovery, the only securely attributed study for his famed early altarpiece with ‘The conversion of St. Paul’ painted for the Church of San Francesco in Bologna (now in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna). In the drawing, as in the painting, the use of diagonals that lead into the space, the cropping of forms, the agitated movement, and the visionary lighting all lend immediacy to the drama of the moment—and testify to the emergence of the Baroque style. A study for the effects of light in the painting, the drawing differs from the finished altarpiece in a number of details. The beams of heavenly light, for example, created here by wiping the aqueous white highlights with a sponge or cloth, were omitted from the painting.This dazzling drawing by Ludovico Carracci is a new discovery, the only securely attributed study for his famed early altarpiece with ‘The conversion of St. Paul’ painted for the Church of San Francesco in Bologna (now in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna). In the drawing, as in the painting, the use of diagonals that lead into the space, the cropping of forms, the agitated movement, and the visionary lighting all lend immediacy to the drama of the moment—and testify to the emergence of the Baroque style. A study for the effects of light in the painting, the drawing differs from the finished altarpiece in a number of details. The beams of heavenly light, for example, created here by wiping the aqueous white highlights with a sponge or cloth, were omitted from the painting.

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