Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas in Lystra (San Pablo y San Bernabé en Lystra)

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Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas in Lystra (San Pablo y San Bernabé en Lystra)

In this 8th cloth in the series, split in two, St Paul and St Barnabas address a crowd who makes offerings before the image of a pagan god.

The commotion of a town after a miracle

The scene in two halves represents the moment when the town of Lystra (currently Klistra, Turkey), overtly moved by the miracle of the Blindness of Elymas (Acts 13, 6-12) which Paul had just performed (as represented in the 7th cloth), wanted to offer a sacrifice to the Apostle of the Gentiles and his companion Barnabas: “‘The gods have come down to us in human form!’ Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.” (Acts 14, 11-18)

At the gate of the city, the priest of the temple of Zeus presents garlanded bulls and rams as oblation. A preparatory drawing by Raphael for the figure of Paul, tearing his clothes indignantly, is kept in the J. Paul Getty Museum of Los Angeles. The apostle, the main character in the scene, has been placed on a high spot over the terrace of the temple, and isolated from the other figures. The bronze sculpture of Hermes or Mercury, to whom the gentiles likened Paul, stands out noticeably in the background.

The parable of the vine and the branches

The border, with ribbons enlaced around a vine shoot with tendrils and grape clusters intercepted by central rosettes, alludes to the Christological image of the parable of the vine and the branches.

A cartoon by Raphael

The cartoon of 347 x 532 cm, painted with water colors over paper by Raphael and his school, is kept in the Victoria & Albert Museum of London.

Use of the tapestry

The tapestry was used throughout the 17th c. in liturgical ceremonies in the monastery of La Encarnación. Since the 19th c., two cloths, each with an inventory entry in National Heritage, adorn the Hall of Columns of the Royal Palace of Madrid, together with the group of apostles from the fragmented tapestry Tend my sheep or the Institution of Peter as head of the Church, the two fragments of the tapestry The blindness of Elymas, the two from St Paul burns the books of magic in Ephesus, and the tapestry The cure of the paralytic.

Series The Acts of the Apostles

8th cloth in the series, it was split in two to adapt it to the room

Model Cartoon by Rafael Sanzio, 1519

Manufacture Jan Raes I, Brussels, c. 1605-1629

Fabric Silk and wool

Size 560 x 351 cm y 545 x 357 cm

Location Royal Palace of Madrid

Origin The collection of Philip III

Exhibition This split cloth decorates the Hall of Columns of the Royal Palace of Madrid since the 19th c.

National Heritage Inv. 10003109 and 10003111.


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