St. Paul on Malta | Adam Elsheimer | 1600
With 22 years, Elsheimer lefts Frankfurt to study from the great masters in Rome. However, the influence of the city was not just artistic, but also spiritual: in Italy, the artist converts from Lutheranism to Catholicism. His paintings will reflect his spiritual commitment by portraying almost all religious motifs. His studies, both in Germany and Italy, allowed the artist to fuse both schools and to develop a work, at least, curious. On one hand, Elsheimer didn’t work in large canvases, but he worked on miniatures. Also, the artist was one of the pioneers of his generation to give great importance to the landscape, one thing that hadn’t been seen for 200 years.
The painting St. Paul in Malta shows the story described in the book Acts of the Apostles, one of the books of the bible. Saint Paul and his followers were shipwrecked in the island of Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea. The inhabitants of the island, to warm the survivors, make a fire. From the branches of the bonfire, a snake jumps on one of the arms of St. Paul, as we see in the lower left corner of the work. The Maltese, before the event, think that Paul is a murderer who receives a divine punishment for his wrongs; but, calmly, the character shakes off the snake without any harm and the Maltese change their minds and convince themselves that the survivor was a man of God.