ALBRECHT DÜRER (1471-1528)
Saint Jerome in his Study
engraving, 1514, on laid paper, without watermark, a very good Meder a-b impression, printing with good contrasts and clarity
Sheet 245 x 188 mm.
Please note this lot is the property of a private individual.
Max Paul Albert von Baldinger-Seidenberg (1837-1904), Stuttgart (Lugt 212); his posthumous sale, H. G. Gutekunst, Stuttgart, 7-11 May 1912, lot 320 ('Hauptblatt in ausgezeichneten Abruck. Sehr selten').
Carl Otto Schniewind (1900- after 1956), New York & Chicago (Lugt 641a).
With P. & D. Colnaghi's, London (with their stocknumber C. 25797 in pencil verso).
Sir Clifford (1907-1982) and Lady Lucille (1898-1977) Curzon, London; acquired from the above on 19 December 1945 (according to invoice); then by descent to the present owner.
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Bartsch 60; Meder, Hollstein 59; Schoch Mende Scherbaum 70
Saint Jerome was one of the fathers of the Church and author of the Vulgate - the early 5th-century translation of the biblical texts into vulgate Latin. (See also the note for lot 6 of this sale). By Dürer's time he had, as a scholar and Latinist, become an iconic figure for the humanists. Here he is immediately identifiable by his attributes - the cardinal's hat and the lion - as he sits writing at his desk in a small, light-filled chamber. It is a friendly room where one might feel welcome, were it not for the lion and a sleeping dog guarding the entrance, and the wooden bench turned away from us as if to shield the saint from any intrusion.
Together with Melencolia I (see lot 4) and Knight, Death and the Devil, Saint Jerome is his Study is one of the three so-called 'Master Prints' by Albrecht Dürer. The term is appropriate as with these prints he undoubtedly reached the height of his capacities as an engraver. Aside from their technical brilliance, the prints are also connected by their near-identical format and their concentration on a single figure in a highly complex, richly symbolic environment. If, as has been suggested, they represent three different modes of virtuous living, Saint Jerome depicts the lonely, quiet life of the man of letters.
It is the bright sunlight falling through the bull's eye windows, thowing a their pattern on the walls and flooding the room with warmth, described by Dürer with dazzling virtuosity, which is the formal theme of this print, and which make it one of the most charming and best-loved of all of Dürer's engravings. Yet Dürer in his unique brilliance and skill as a printmaker made that sunshine still seem outshun by the saint's halo, which is the brightest spot of the whole image.