Vincenzo Foppa worked in Lombardy, north of Florence. In comparison with the other works from the Kress Collection, Foppa’s darker palette and dry, defined contours along with the realistic details in Paul’s craggy hair and glistening bald head achieve a gravitas befitting one of the church’s most important saints. The gilded decoration surrounding him uses directional incised lines to create a remarkably convincing barrel-vaulted space above and around our saint, at once situating him in space and projecting him forward, which amplifies the realistic effect of the sculptural painting technique.
St. Paul wrote two books in the Bible and traveled extensively to preach the word of God. His attributes are the sword and the book, symbols of his unwavering faith in the face of persecution and mission to spread the word, also emphasized by the words inscribed along the hem of his cloak.