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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

The Conversion of Saint Paul

Photo: Eduardo Calderón

The Conversion of Saint Paul


Luca di Tommè

Italian, Siena, active 1355-1389

Here, text conveys dialogue: God’s voice speaking to the Roman skeptic Saul, whom he struck to the ground and blinded. This shattering encounter transformed Saul from a persecutor of Christians into the Apostle Paul, one of the founders of the Christian church.

The painting was originally part of a predella, the lower register of an altarpiece. A predella’s smaller scale and less prominent location allowed artists to experiment with drama and illusion in a way that was impossible in the static images of the main part of the altarpiece.
Egg tempera and gold on wood
12 3/8 x 15 1/4 in. (31.43 x 38.74 cm)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
Provenance: Count Alessandro Contini Bonacossi (1878-1955), Florence; sold to Samuel H. Kress (1863-1955), October 10, 1935, as Lippo Vanni; gift to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, 1939 - deaccessioned 1952; returned to Kress; Seattle Art Museum, since 1952, accessioned 1961
Photo: Eduardo Calderón
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Exhibition HistoryWashington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, 1941-1951.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Italian Art: Samuel H. Kress Collection, 1952. Text by William Suida and Sherman Lee. Cat. no. 4, p. 5.

Los Angeles, California, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Italian Panel Painting of the early Renaissance in the Collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Dec. 1994 - Mar. 1995. Text by Caroselli, Susan L. and Joseph Fronek. Cat. no. 37.

San Diego, California, Timken Museum of Art, Art & Devotion in Siena After 1350: Luca di Tomme and Niccolo di Buonaccorso, Dec. 11, 1997 - Apr. 12, 1998.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Renaissance Art in Focus: Neri di Bicci and Devotional Paintings in Italy, Mar. 25, 2004 - Dec. 31, 2005. Text by Elizabeth Darrow and Nicholas Dorman. No cat. no., pp. 64-66, figs. 1-4.
Published ReferencesZeri, Federico. “Sul Problema di Niccolò Tegliacci e Luca di Tommè.” Paragone, no. 5 (1958): p.16.

Suida, William, and Richard Fuller. European Paintings and Sculpture from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 1954; p. 26, reproduced p. 27.

Shapley, Fern Rusk. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation: Italian Schools XVI-XVIII. London: Phaidon Press for the Samuel H. Kress Collection, 1966; pp. 60-61, fig. 157, 158.

De Benedictis, Cristina. La Pittura Senese. Florence: Salimbeni Libreria, 1979; pp. 38, 87-90.

Boskovits, Miklós. Early Italian Painting 1290-1470: The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection. London: Sotheby’s, 1990; pp.128-129, reproduced no. 11.

Torriti, Piero. La Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena. Genoa: Sagep, 1990; pp. 108-109.

Ishikawa, Chiyo. The Samuel H. Kress Collection at the Seattle Art Museum. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 1997; p. 47, fig. 29.

Guazzini, Giacomo. Il museo e la citta: Vicende artistiche pistoiesi del Quattrocento. Pistoia, Italy: Gli ori, 2014; p. 17, fig. 7.

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