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Sculpture, Saint Paul
Category: Sculpture
Origin: France
Era: pre 1600
AFA Issue or
Dealer Reference#:
LAC-SCU 15-2
circa 1490

Limestone, with traces of original paint and gilding

Provenance: Chevalier Raoul Tolentino, Rome; sold American Art Association, New York, 1920, lot 913; Joseph Brummer, New York; Countess Ruth Costantino, New York

Saint Paul (died circa 65 AD), Apostle to the Gentiles, was major figure in the early Christian Church. His life is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Son of Roman citizen, he was a zealous Jew, active in the persecution of the Christians until a vision of Christ on the road to Damascus made him a fervent convert to the new faith. He went on extensive missionary journeys to Cyprus, Asia Minor, and Greece. Returning to Jerusalem, he was violently attacked by the Jews and imprisoned for two years. An appeal to the Emperor brought a transfer (circa 60 AD) to Rome, where according to tradition, he was executed after two years house arrest. His epistles, some of which are preserved in the New Testament, have had an incalculable influence on Christian belief and practice. Saint Paul is recognized as having been a tireless missionary as well as a powerful thinker. His colorful and adventurous preaching career, described in the Acts of Apostles, provided artists with material for his representation.

Saint Paul is often represented with a long face, deep set eyes, and a long beard. This sculpture fits this physical description. In the right hand of the sculpture is an open book and in the left a hilt of a sword. Both the book and the sword are visual emblems associated with this saint.

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