A mature man with a full beard bends over an open volume, holding a quill pen over its pages. The sword hilt emerging at the lower right identifies him as the Apostle Paul, author of most of the epistles of the New Testament, the book of the Hebrews, and of the Acts of the Apostles. Caught in a moment of divine inspiration, his brow furrowed, he pauses as he puts words to paper. This monumental and brooding figure was painted by Jan Lievens when he was only around seventeen or eighteen years old. A child prodigy, Lievens completed his training in Amsterdam with Pieter Lastman (who later taught Rembrandt) when he was only fourteen, and likely served as a kind of mentor, and later an associate, to the young Rembrandt, starting around the time this work was painted. It is thoroughly accomplished in technique, rendering a wide variety of textures in the flowing hair, the bulging flesh and in the remarkable still life of books in the foreground. The figure has been grandly imagined, a tendency Lievens never abandoned. Its stern sobriety, also expressed in the muted colour range, likely reflects the climate of religious tension in Leiden at the time. Lievens followed this work with a series of the four Evangelists in a similar format, now in Bamberg, painted over the course of several years.