Niccolò dell'Abbate
The Conversion of St. Paul

Circa 1552
Oil on canvas, 69 x 50.6 in. (177.5 x 128.5 cm.)
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

The artist pares down the details in Acts, eliding the companions and even the source of the light in the sky. Christ's voice is suggested only by the saint's fearful attentiveness to it.

Yet dell'Abbate adds the horse, which had become common by mid-century but is not in Acts. Rearing majestically and seemingly lit by a source other than the light from Christ, the horse may represent Saul himself as proud scourge of Christians, to whom the Savior says, "It is hard for thee to kick against the goad" (Acts 26:14).

More of St. Paul