(b. 1571, Caravaggio, d. 1610, Porto Ercole)

The Conversion of St. Paul

c. 1600
Oil on cypress wood, 237 x 189 cm
Odescalchi Balbi Collection, Rome

In 1600 Caravaggio received the commission for two paintings on cypress panel, one (Conversion of St Paul) for the new chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo. The extant painting with the subject is on canvas. The version in the Odeschalci Balbi Collection is on cypress wood as stipulated in the contract of 1600. It is probably a copy therefore it can be assumed that there was one time an original by Caravaggio.

In the position of the St Paul and of the Christ, and in the movement of the horse into the depth of the picture, this work is still related to the tradition of Michelangelo's fresco in the Paolina Chapel. There are decidedly Caravaggesque elements in the work, such as the face of the angel supporting Christ, which greatly resembles that of the Amor Victorious (Berlin), or of the Isaac in the Sacrifice of Isaac (Uffizi).