The Conversion of St. Paul

Woodcut, c. 1515-16. Hollstein 125; Yale (1981) cat. no. 52
Watermark: Double-headed eagle with pendant letters GV

A fine impression still with good relief, trimmed just outside the borderline all round. A nick at the lower left border and a curving printer’s crease in that corner, a barely perceptible centre crease, slight puckering in the upper left corner from old hinges, generally in good condition. 297 x 204mm. Rare. Only three impressions have appeared at auction in over thirty years

While Baldung had earlier represented this subject in a woodcut of 1505-07, he has moved on in ten years to a highly dramatic, spot-lit style owing much to the influence of Grunewald, overlaid on Durer’s more stable base. Pressing Saul and his companions and their frenzied horses into a small space near the picture plane in the lower half of the composition, he contrasts their undulating, agitated shapes and gestures with the almost tangible jolts of light and energy directed at them by Christ from on high. The emotion of the conversion is brought to fever pitch in one of the most original depictions of the scene in the Renaissance period.