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This painting illustrates the biblical account of St Paul’s missionary visit to the city of Ephesus, in what is now Turkey. The pagans have renounced their belief in sorcery and are burning their valuable scrolls to demonstrate their conversion to Christianity.It is one of a set of replicas of eight scenes from the life of St Paul which Thornhill painted inside the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, between 1714 and 1717. It was one of the grandest decorative painting projects of its day. Thornhill painted these replicas in grisaille – monochrome tones. They were probably used as models for engravers to work from.

May 2007