We are grateful to Paola Pacht Bassani who has confirmed the attribution to Vignon on the basis of photographs.
Born in Tours and probably first trained in the studio of Jacob Bunel in Paris, Claude Vignon travelled to Rome in 1609-10 where he joined Simon Vouet, Valentin de Boulogne, and the French community of painters. Together with his compatriots, Vignon painted portraits, genre scenes and religious works that were greatly influenced by Caravaggio and his close pupil Bartolomeo Manfredi. Vignon's style was not exclusively Caravaggesque, however, and by the 1620s his work reflected exposure to both Venetian colouring and Jacques Bellange's Northern Mannerist conventions.
The present picture is, however, entirely characteristic of Vignon's early period in Rome, where the artist soon tuned into contemporary tastes and painted a series of Saints in both vertical and horizontal formats usually seated at a table, writing or reading, and often turned towards the viewer. The free, almost powdery brushwork on the Saint's beard and hair combine with the engaging way in which he turns and apparently speaks to the viewer, to give this work a particular immediacy. The turning and leaning pose of the Saint was a favoured device of Vignon, particularly in his earlier work, and can also be seen effectively employed in his Saint Augustine (?) (private collection, see P. Pacht Bassani, Claude Vignon, Paris, 1992, p. 165, no. 3) or his Saint Paul, sold in these Rooms, 13 December 1991, lot 222, (idem., no. 14).