The Conversion of St. Paul
Benjamin West ( American, active in England, 1738 - 1820 )
- c. 1786
This altarpiece depicts the conversion of St. Paul, one of the fathers of the Christian church. Previously an avid persecutor of Christians, Saul—as he was originally known—was struck by temporary blindness while en route to the city of Damascus. Upon regaining his sight, he changed his name to Paul and became a Christian, going on to become one of the major authors of the New Testament.
This painting served as a model for a painted glass window in St. Paul's Church in Birmingham, England. It is the earliest and smallest of two versions of the subject by Benjamin West. He painted a later, sketchier treatment in response to the acclaim with which this altarpiece was greeted when it was exhibited in London at the Royal Academy.
Wiliam Keyse Rudolph, DMA Label text, 2006