Lodovico Carracci

As narrated in the New Testament, Saul of Tarsus, a ruthless persecutor of Christians, was struck from his horse by the blinding light of a divine apparition on his way from Jerusalem to Damascus. In this large, elaborate study for an altarpiece in the Basilica di San Francesco in Bologna, Lodovico emphasized the centrifugal drama of the event by crowding the picture plane with a seething mass of human and equine forms. The artist’s bold, painterly technique—combining pen and ink, washes, and white oil paint—allowed him to achieve the spectacular contrasts of light and dark that often characterize his paintings.

Lodovico Carracci
Italian, 1555–1619
The conversion of Saint Paul, 1587–89
Pen and brown ink, with brush and brown wash, heightened with white oil paint, over traces of black chalk, on paper prepared with a brown oil wash
The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of Richard and Mary L. Gray; 2019.839
Gray Collection Trust, Art Institute of Chicago
Photography by Jamie Stukenberg, Professional Graphics Inc.