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Conversion of Saul

February 7, 2011

Taddeo & Federico Zuccaro's Conversion of Saul (1557-1564) in the Frangipani Chapel, San Marcello al Corso, Rome.Conversion of Saul

Taddeo & Federico Zuccaro 1557-1564.


Frangipani Chapel, San Marcello al Corso, Rome.

This altarpiece for the Frangipani Chapel in San Marcello al Corso is the work of both Zuccaro brothers, but finished by Federico in 1564.  This fresco was painted during the beginning of the Baroque era.  It echoes Renaissance and Mannerist features both in style and quotations of previous works.

The Zuccari came to Rome from a town near Urbino.  They would have been exposed to the art of Correggio, Parmigianino, and most importantly, Raphael.  They brought the grazie of Raphael and terribilità of Michelangelo to their St. Paul frescoes in the Frangipani Chapel.  God’s pointing hand in the top portion of the composition is most obviously Michelangelesque – not only homage to the great painter, but also a specific reference to the Sistine Chapel ceiling (a quote only the learned viewer would recognize and understand).  Likewise, the figure to our right comes from Michelango’s Last Judgment.  This figure seems to move into our space, invading it, ready to burst through the picture plane.  This could be a foreshadow into the Baroque, but the two groups of angels at the top corners frame the episode, as not to lead us to believe there is more going on outside the frame.

The Zuccari Conversion of Saul is different from other renditions of the subject in that it features a great cast of characters.  The jumble of bodies and swirl of motion creates the drama.  The Zuccari also include a God figure in their altarpiece, whereas other artists such as Ludovico Carracci and Caravaggio merely used light to indicate the sacred.

Liana De Girolami Cheney. “Zuccaro.” Grove Art OnlineOxford Art Online. 5 Feb. 2011<;.

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