Sold with a photocopy of a certificate from Harvey Sperling, dated New York, January 19, 1942, as Ribera.
Craig Felton (private communication, Aug. 21, 1997) believes the present painting is an autograph work by Jusepe da Ribera datable to circa 1613-5. He pre-dates it to an etching of St. Jerome of 1621, which he believes derives from the above lot since he considers that Ribera always produced his etchings after having arrived at the composition through a painting. There are differences between the two compositions. For example, the lion in the painting has in the etching been moved to the right and replaced by a rock. In the painting the lion responds to the trumpet call, whereas in the etching he becomes an incidental onlooker. The inkpot in the painting contains a quill; in the etching it does not and has been placed closer to the Saint's arms. The piece of foliage between the rocks to the left of the Saint's head in the etching is absent in the painting.
From X-rays it is apparent that the canvas weave and pattern of the St. Jerome is very similar to that used by Ribera in his Sense of Taste in the Wadsworth Atheneum. Based on the X-rays Felton also believes the paintings reveal a similarity in technique; the artist arriving at the final configuration of the forms through subtle consolidation, and the highlights being placed in similar ways on the faces and hands. However, Mr. Felton dates the present painting prior to Ribera's famous series of The Five Senses, and instead places it at the same time as his Saint Jerome in the collection of Joey and Toby Tanenbaum, Toronto (see the catalogue of the exhibition Jusepe da Ribera, New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sept. 18 - Nov. 29, 1992, pp. 64-6, no. 6). Mr. Felton dates the Tanenbaum Saint Jerome, which he was the first to publish, to circa 1613.
We are grateful to Mr. Felton for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.