Mid 15th Century Carved Figure of Saint Paul
According to medieval artistic conventions, Saint Paul is traditionally identified by a long beard, a sword (the instrument of his martyrdom), and a book – which represents his writings.
The sculptor has invested his carved Saint Paul with exceptional vitality, Paul’s right knee pushes against the fabric of his robe, suggesting a relaxed but attentive posture, whilst his slightly inclined head and furrowed brow project a sense of determination and quiet solemnity. These qualities were especially important for a statue which would have presided over a private chapel where the Saint would serve as a heavenly advocate.
The sculpture’s gentle expression and full, cascading drapery folds, are an outgrowth of the “soft style”, which became popular after circa 1400.
Limewood and polychromy. France, Valley of the Upper Rhine (Bas-Rhine), possibly Strasbourg, mid 15th century.