- Museum number
Two studies for the Conversion of St Paul.
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, the sheet cut in two and clumsily stuck back together with small sections missing
- Production date
- 1657-1658 (circa)
Height: 108 millimetres
Width: 158 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The date of the drawing can be fixed to some extent by it having been drawn on the reverse of a letter of November 1657 sent to him from Antoine Bouzonnet Stella. As Rosenberg and Prat astutely noted Poussin appears to have cut the paper in half and drawn on them separately as the two halves, although closely linked, are distinct. That on the left, executed in Poussin's tremulous aged style sketches out a complete 'Conversion' with Christ at the upper left and the stunned saint lying beside his fallen horse in the centre foreground. The sheet on the right seems to correct aspects of the rather overcrowded design on the left: Paul is moved away from his horse and the arrangement in depth of the horsemen on their rearing horses made clearer. The kicking horse above appears to be a subsequent idea for inclusion in the scene. The present sheet is the best example in the BM's collection of Poussin drawings of how syphilis caused the artist's hand to shake, a disability that is visible from works from the 1650s onwards and one that impaired his ability to paint.
No related painting is known but Poussin is known to have been working on picture of the 'Conversion' for his friend Chantelou in 1649-50 and he returned to the theme around 1655-58. A horizontal compositional drawing at Chantilly (Prat and Rosenberg no. 340) dates from the beginning of the design process; this and three sheets in the Hermitage are for a more compact upright treatment of the subject from the last years of the 1650s (idem nos. 369-71). The squared Hermitage drawing (no. 369) includes elements sketched out in the BM drawing such as the kicking horse, but the composition is reversed with Paul in the lower right corner and Christ in the upper left. The Hermitage drawing may not be autograph (Martin Clayton doubted it in his "Burlington Magazine" review of Prat and Rosenberg), but its connection to the present drawing suggests it does record a further stage in Poussin's development of the subject.
Lit.: W. Friedlaender and A. Blunt, 'The drawings of Nicolas Poussin, catalogue raisonné', London, 1939, I, no. A 15, p. 36, pl. 73; idem 'The drawings of Nicolas Poussin, catalogue raisonné: drawings after the Antique, miscellaneous drawings addenda', London, 1974, V, no. 408, pp. 83-4, pl. 300; R. Schilling (ed.), 'Die von Edmund Schilling gesammelten Zeichnungen', published privately, Edgware, 1982, p. 143, 'Das kleine Album', no. 11; H. Brigstocke, in exhib. cat., Oxford, Ashmolean, 'A loan exhibition of drawings by Nicolas Poussin from British collections', 1990, no. 61; P. Rosenberg and L.-A. Prat, 'Nicolas Poussin, 1594 -1665: catalogue raisonné des dessins', Milan, 1994, no. 368;
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1960 Paris, Musée du Louvre, 'Poussin', no.234
1997/8 Sept-Jan, BM, Schilling
2002 April-June, Nagoya, Aichi Prefectural Mus of Art, 'French Drawings from the British Museum'
2002 July-Sep, Tokyo, NM of Western Art, 'French Drawings from the British Museum'
2003-4 Dec-April, BM, NACF exhibition
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- In 1997, the Museum acquired on the death of Mrs Rosi Schilling the majority of a collection of mostly northern Old Master drawings assembled by her late husband the curator and later drawings dealer and adviser, Edmund Schilling (1888-1974). Schilling was born in Germany and came to Britain in 1937 after the rise of the Nazis. He was prominent as a specialist in German Old Master drawings and his widow’s bequest in his memory was predominantly made up of studies that he had collected in this field. Given its importance, the Museum accepted the bequest for public benefit in good faith, and has afterwards researched its history, insofar as it has been able. There remain however many works in the bequest with uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45 and the Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of these works during that era.
This drawing was acquired by Edmund Schilling for a small album (no.11) that he compiled for his wife, Rosi Schilling (see for further details 1997,0713.1; for the original album, see 159.b.28).
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number