The Cerasi Chapel (Capella Cerasi) is one of five chapels located within the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome. It contains important paintings by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio and Annibale Carracci, two of the founders of Baroque art, all dating from 1600 or 1601.
The chapel was purchased in July 1600 by Monsignor Tiberio Cerasi, Consistorial Advocate and Treasurer-General to Pope Clement VIII. Cerasi commissioned Carracci and Caravaggio, the two leading emerging artists of the day, to provide an altarpiece of The Assumption of Mary (Carracci) and The Conversion of Saint Paul on the Road to Damascus and The Crucifixion of Saint Peter (Caravaggio) for the two side walls. Cerasi's choice of the Assumption for the altar seems straightforward enough, while the Saint Paul and Saint Peter honoured the two Apostles central to the Catholic Church, as well as the popular Counter-Reformation themes of conversion and martydom. Caravaggio's dramatically lit and foreshortened Peter and Paul, intended to be viewed from the side rather than straight-on, draw the eye to Carracci's frontally presented Assumption, so that the chapel is aesthetically united despite the very different styles of the two artists.