Italian Baroque Era Painter, ca.1571-1610
Italian painter. After an early career as a painter of portraits, still-life and genre scenes he became the most persuasive religious painter of his time. His bold, naturalistic style, which emphasized the common humanity of the apostles and martyrs, flattered the aspirations of the Counter-Reformation Church, while his vivid chiaroscuro enhanced both three-dimensionality and drama, as well as evoking the mystery of the faith. He followed a militantly realist agenda, rejecting both Mannerism and the classicizing naturalism of his main rival, Annibale Carracci. In the first 30 years of the 17th century his naturalistic ambitions and revolutionary artistic procedures attracted a large following from all over Europe.
ID: 62377 St Jerome 1607 Oil on canvas 117 x 157 cm St John Museum, La Valletta This picture of the holy scholar was made for Ippolito Malaspina, a Maltese knight whose coat of arms is on the wooden panel to the right. He was connected by marriage to Caravaggio's patron Ottavio Costa and was a confidant of the Grand Master, who may have been used as the model for the saint (similarly Van Dyck was to use the sister of the Queen of England as model for the Madonna). The saint does indeed look like the knight in a recently discovered portrait by Caravaggio, who has been identified by some as Wignacourt himself. The composition is planned in terms of triangles. One rises from the table to the saint's head, another has its apex at the cardinal's hat on the wall to the left, a third recedes to the bedstead at the back on the right. This simple design helps convey an idea of simplicity. St Jerome has no halo, his workbench is rudimentary, he does not own any folios, he has one candle to see by, a crucifix to meditate on, a stone to beat against his chest, and a skull to remind him of his mortality. He is partly naked because he lives an eremitical life in the desert of Judaea. A steady light shines on his torso and picks out the red cloak round his legs. The source of the light is outside the picture, and can be interpreted as Christ, Light of the World