May 26, 2010

The Conversion of Saul with Christ and the Cross

The Conversion of Saul with Christ and the Cross

c. 1645–47

Jacob Jordaens

(Flemish, 1593–1678)

Brush and brown wash, gouache and watercolor over black and red chalk, heightened with traces of white; framing lines in graphite

Support: Two sheets (joined) of cream(3) laid paper, laid down on beige(1) laid paper

Sheet: 33 x 19.9 cm (13 x 7 13/16 in.)

Delia E. Holden and L. E. Holden Funds 1954.367


Did you know?

In order to create the arch at the top of this sheet, which is almost a foot high, the artist added an additional sheet of paper.


Jacob Jordaens was a prominent artist working in Antwerp in the 17th century. Though influenced in his use of powerful forms and vibrant color by his contemporary, Peter Paul Rubens, Jordaens was notably more realist in his tendencies. This drawing and its companion drawing in the Cleveland Museum of Art's collection (1954.366) are very likely studies for a painting depicting the Conversion of Saint Paul that Jordaens made for the the abbey church at Tongerlo, near Antwerp, in around 1647 (now lost). According to the Bible, in the year following the death of Jesus Christ, Saul of Tarsus (who became Saint Paul) was on the road to Damascus. He was suddenly surrounded by a brilliant light from above, heard the voice of Christ, and became a believer. In this work, Saul appears to have been blinded by the force of Christ's voice and heavenly light. Jordaens used a combination of chalks and wet media such as ink and watercolor to create a swirling mass of bodies bathed in light.

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