From my Roman journal, 12 November 2012:
Caravaggio’s Conversione di San Paolo astounds (in the event, I couldn’t spare more than a second or two for his S. Pietro). A priest at Santa Maria del Popolo was kind enough to flip on the light, having witnessed my doubtful expression before the darkened chapel. The painting exploded in my field of vision, as a totality and in detail. I sorted out the respective limbs – Paul’s, the servant’s, the horse’s – in wonderment. Then I gazed for ages at the painter’s rendering of the bit, of the horse’s placid demeanor (its expression by far the most compelling of the three, to my mind). Paul, it turns out, labours under more and heavier harness than his equine partner.
It is no doubt an image of the immediate aftermath of a fall. To a pair of eyes innocent (or wittingly forgetful) of church history, art history, might it not allow for a multiplicity of possible readings? As an initiation into horse worship, for example?