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Highlights: Weil Gifts

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Image of St. Jerome in Penitence

Jan Lievens
Dutch, 1607–1674

St. Jerome in Penitence

about 1631

Object Type: Print
9 5/8 in. x 8 1/4 in. (24.45 cm x 20.96 cm)
Medium and Support: Etching on paper
Accession Number: 1992.0003

Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Weil, Jr., in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Weil, Sr.

Jan Lievens shared a studio with his younger painter/printmaker friend Rembrandt Van Rijn (Dutch, 1606–1669) in Leyden between about 1626 and 1631. In some cases, Lievens actually collaborated with Rembrandt, and their subjects were complementary. Such is the case with this etching of St. Jerome, one of the great philosopher/scholars of the Roman Catholic Church who was depicted by both artists. (See, for example, MMFA 1999.7.106, “St. Jerome Beneath a Pollard Willow.”) Lievens created the original plate for “St. Jerome in Penitence” in about 1631, when he and Rembrandt were both still in Leyden. This plate repeated (in reverse) a monochromatic oil study on paper now in the collection of the Lakenthal in the city of Leyden. The plate was left too long in the acid bath when it was etched, which resulted in the lines in the darker areas breaking down prematurely, creating masses of darkness without further definition of form. Perhaps because of this problem (or possibly other factors), the plate was cut down, and subsequent states (there are five in all) produced considerably different images. The MMFA impression of the third state was published in Antwerp by the artist/publisher Frans van den Wyngaerde (Belgian, 1614–1679). Van den Wyngaerde engraved and published the work of many prominent seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish artists including Anthony Van Dyke (Dutch, 1599–1641) and Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 1577–1640.) Various changes were made to the plate (the book and jug on the right were added) before its publication by Van den Wyngaerde, and it is unknown if those changes were made by the publisher (who was also an engraver) or by Lievens himself, possibly when he lived in Antwerp between 1635 and 1644.

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