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Attributed to the Master of the Female Half-Lengths (active Antwerp? 1st half 16th Century)
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Attributed to the Master of the Female Half-Lengths (active Antwerp? 1st half 16th Century)

The Penitent Saint Jerome

Details
Attributed to the Master of the Female Half-Lengths (active Antwerp? 1st half 16th Century)
The Penitent Saint Jerome
oil on panel
19 1/8 x 15 in. (48.5 x 38.1 cm.)
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No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis

Lot Essay

The composition, which appears to be previously unrecorded, combines two separate motifs from the iconography of Saint Jerome - the bare-chested penitent, beating himself with a rock, and the translator of the Vulgate, in an interior with a copy of his work. That combination is very unusual and the only other documented example of it is seemingly the Saint Jerome (West Palm Beach, Norton Gallery and School of Art) by the Brunswick Monogrammist and Joos van Cleve. The pose of the Saint would appear, however, to be more closely linked with that of a composition by Jan Sanders van Hemessen of the late 1530s, known through a copy (for which, see B. Wallen, Jan van Hemessen, Michigan, 1983, p. 44, fig. 41); that pose, which seems itself to be inspired by Gerard David, also recurs in a later work by van Hemessen, in a private collection, London (ibid., fig. 151).

The close link with the work of Van Hemessen and Van Cleve, as well as its own stylistic idiosyncracies, suggests that the present work was painted by an artist active in Antwerp in the second quarter of the sixteenth century. The half-length format and also the unusual ornament seen resting on the base of the column, bring to mind the workshop known collectively as the Master of the Female Half-Lengths. Other depictions of Saint Jerome by that Master are known (e.g. that illustrated by Friedländer (Early Netherlandish Painiting, XII, Leiden and Brussels, 1975, no. 79, fig. 40), all of which derive more directly from David's model. One might hypothesize, therefore, that this is from a later period within the Master's activity, influenced by the example of Van Hemessen. The possibility should not, however, be discounted, that the half-length interpretation of the format was originated in the Master's workshop, and that it was Hemessen (and Van Cleve) who copied it, in the same way as he utilised the former's design for his Portrait of a young girl weighing gold (Berlin, Dahlem Museum) and Portrait of a young girl playing a clavichord (Worcester, Mass., Art Museum).
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