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St. Jerome in the Desert, 1555-56
Engraving by Joannes and Lucas van Doetecum (Deventer active by 1551 – c. 1569 Haarlem)
322 x 424 mm.; 12 5/8 x 16 11/16 inches
Horn in Shield (Briquet 7867), dated by Briquet
Orenstein (Peter Bruegel the Elder Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001) no. 25
A very fine, early, particularly strong impression. With watermark Horn in Shield (cf. Briquet 7867, dated by Briquet as Basel 1586). Some minor abrasions in blank area below image. A spot of discoloration in sky. Trace of centerfold. Backed with light mulberry paper. With thread margins around the full image.
The historical St. Jerome (born as Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus in about A.D. 340) had decided on biblical studies as a “life style”. To accomplish this, he went as a hermit into the wasteland of Chalcis, south and east of Antioch. In this engraving after Bruegel, we see to the far right a Saint Jerome immersed in his studies. However, instead of the wasteland of Chalcis, Bruegel’s St. Jerome finds himself in a Netherlandish landscape imaginarily combined with the artist’s Alpine memories.
This work, attributed earlier to Hieronymus Cock, is now considered by Orenstein as being by the Doetecum brothers (see reference above).