During Saint Paul's mission to Ephesus (in modern Turkey), he succeeded in converting many of the city's inhabitants to Christianity, and some who had previously 'used curious arts' publicly burnt their books and manuscripts. New Testament (Acts 19: 18-20). Saint Paul stands in the centre, while the other disciples on the platform give thanks, dispense alms, hear confession and bless the converts.

This picture is possibly Le Sueur's preliminary sketch for his large-scale picture of the same subject in Notre-Dame, Paris. It was a so-called 'May' painting in 1649, a votive picture given annually (1630 - 1707) to the cathedral by the Paris goldsmiths.

Judging from a photograph, an apparently identical sketch (Algiers, Musée National des Beaux-Arts) may be a copy of this picture by another hand.

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
1616 - 1655
Full title
Saint Paul preaching at Ephesus
Date made
1649
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
100.8 x 84.8 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1959
Inventory number
NG6299
Location in Gallery