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Sir James Thornhill, 1675–1734, British

St. Paul before Agrippa

ca. 1710
Oil on canvas
Support (PTG): 32 1/4 x 29 1/4 inches (81.9 x 74.3 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
apostle | architecture | armor | Bible | book | Classical | columns | king (person) | men | Paul before Festus, King Agrippa and Queen Bernice | queen (person) | religious | religious and mythological subject | Roman | ruins | saint | shawls | soldiers | swords | trial | women
Associated People:
Paul the Apostle (c. AD 5 – c. AD 67)
Agrippa II (born AD 27/28), seventh and last king of the family of Herod the Great
Berenice of Cilicia (28 AD – ?), Jewish client queen of the Roman Empire during the second half of the 1st century
On view in the galleries
IIIF Manifest:

In 1709, the Commissioners for the Fabric of St. Paul’s announced a competition to paint the interior of the cathedral’s dome. Leading painters from the continent submitted designs, but the Englishman James Thornhill secured this prestigious commission in 1715. Thornhill was then considered Britain’s leading decorative painter, but many patrons, familiar with the sophistication of decorative painting abroad, favored other artists, especially Venetians. One London newspaper predicted that Thornhill would “put to Silence all the loud Applauses we have hitherto given to foreign Artists.” The rich colors used in this preparatory picture do not appear in the final murals; the commissioners decided that grisaille—a painted imitation of stone relief—would be more acceptable for a Protestant church.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

Connections (Yale Center for British Art, 2011-05-26 - 2011-09-11) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Apostles in England - Sir James Thornhill and the Legacy of Raphael's Tapestry Cartoons (Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, 1996-10-15 - 1996-12-21) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 222-223, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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