I believe Caravaggio’s take on “The Conversion of Saint Paul” was controversial because some believe the conversion was presented in a disrespectful manner. The 16th century was a time of Spiritual Reformation and I think it would have been less controversial if Saint Paul was presented in a more positive light (not knocked down to the ground). A lot of focus seems to lie on the horse as that takes up quite a bit of the painting. However, Saint Paul is also highlighted as he lifts his hands in praise and surrenders to the Lord. Maybe such focus is placed on the horse to represent the power that knocked him down (literally and figuratively speaking). This painting is a perfect example of Baroque art because it contains the use of chiaroscuro where there is a significant contrast between the highlighted portions of the paintings and the dark shadows. I liked the “spotlight” reference noted in the Lecture as that just seems to be the perfect way to describe it. It’s almost as if the artist portrays a scene and highlights the main character in the play. That’s why I believe the horse must signify a message Caravaggio was trying to portray as he is highlighted just as much as Saint Paul was.
Saint Paul became a very prominenet Christian leader and according to the Testament he converted after encountering a resurrected Jesus on his way to Damascus, this would have been for any Christian an extremely Holy and divine moment, to have Jesu's light shined upon you and in this picture nothing divine is represented, to the contrary, this is represented in a very vulgar way in which Caravaggio used figures of the likes of dubious origin and exteme commonality. Also, the horse takes on most of the painting, and the whole scene is very upclose to the viewer thus making it very realistic and perhaps unsuitable for the intended location which was the Cerasi chapel in Santa del Popolo. This painting is a perfect example of the Baroque style due to its highly charged...
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