'The Conversion of the Proconsul'

'The Conversion of the Proconsul'

Raphael
'The Conversion of the Proconsul'
1515-16
Bodycolour over charcoal underdrawing on paper, mounted on canvas
Height 342 cm x width 446 cm
On loan from HM Queen Elizabeth II; rcin 912948

The sorcerer Elymas has just been struck blind by Paul because he tried to prevent Barnabas and Paul from converting the Roman proconsul Sergius Paulus to Christianity. As a result, the proconsul comes to believe in the Lord. The text on the plinth below the proconsul outlines the resolution of the story; in translation, it reads 'Lucius Sergius Paulus, Proconsul of Asia, embraces the Christian faith through the preaching of Paul.' This scene, taken together with The Healing of the Lame Man, illustrates the different missions of Peter and Paul: Paul's mission is to convert the Gentiles, while Peter's mission is to convert the Jews.

Raphael and his assistants often worked out ideas for the design of the cartoons in small studies. One of the surviving studies for this cartoon indicates that he experimented with the facial expressions of the witnesses and with the distribution of light and shade before deciding on the composition we see today.