Conversion of Saint Paul
[Venice], c. 1515-1520
A four-sheet woodcut print representing the dramatic biblical account of Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-18). The same formal structure, figural motifs, and landscape elements are found in the two greatest monumental woodcuts designed by Titian, ‘The Submersion of Pharaoh’s Army in the Red Sea’ and ‘The Sacrifice of Abraham’, both printed about 1515, leading some critics to surmise that the unnamed designer was active in the circle of Titian, if not Titian himself, and conjecture contemporaneous dates of invention or execution. The earliest states of the woodcut bear the monogram ‘LA’ of the printmaker, an artist probably to be identified with Lucantonio degli Uberti, a Florentine, who worked in Venice during the first two decades of the sixteenth century. Lucantonio’s oeuvre includes an edition in nine blocks of Titian’s ‘Triumph of Christ’, a variety of other multi-block woodcut prints and maps, and at least six single-sheet intaglio prints. He was a prolific book illustrator, signing woodcuts with his initials in different variations, working for other publishers as well as selling his own books and prints from a shop situated beside the Ponte San Moise.
Ten complete impressions and three fragments of this print are known, of which at least four were printed in the seventeenth century. This impression is on a watermarked paper produced at mills in the Trentino and Friuli, c. 1580-1587.