Interior of the Church of San Paolo fuori le Mura immediately after the Fire of 1823, 1823
Pen, brush and ink on paper. Inscription in pen. 375 x 570 mm
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Tradition has it that basilica of San Paolo fuori le Mura was built on the tomb of the St Paul and was started around 300 outside the walls of Rome, as the name suggests. The church was considered one of the great attractions in Rome. Moreover, the basilica was one of the Catholic Church’s most important monuments. When the basilica was devastated by fire in 1823, the Vatican considered the catastrophe to be so great that Cardinal Consalvi kept it secret from Pope Pius VII, who held the place in special veneration, but who was already ill and approaching death. Numerous artists made use of the opportunity to make works taking the site of the fire as their motif.