Pensionante del Saraceni

The Penitent Saint Jerome in his Study

Date
ca. 1615

Medium
oil on canvas

Dimension
171.4 x 122.4 cm

Date
ca. 1615

Medium
oil on canvas

Dimension
171.4 x 122.4 cm

The Penitent Saint Jerome in his Study is a painting by the elusive Caravaggisti artist known as the Pensionante del Saraceni. It was sold through Nicholas Hall to the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.
Inscriptions

In white chalk at the reverse, on lining canvas: ’33’

On the bottom member of the stretcher, a red wax (?) seal, illegible, circular with a coat of arms with a crown above the shield

Provenance

Muller (Müller?) collection, Strasbourg, France, ca. 1800

Marie Therese Brautigam (Bräutigam?), Germany, by inheritance, by 1953

with Hall & Knight ltd., New York

Acquired through Nicholas H.J. Hall from the above by the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 2004

Essay

Formerly attributed to Carlo Saraceni, this major discovery for the history of the Baroque in Rome has been only recently ascribed to his close follower – the “Pensionante del Saraceni”, or Lodger of Carlo Saraceni. The nationality of this still anonymous painter remains uncertain. His style is a softer and more intimate version of Caravaggio’s, yet shares the same intense emotional content and obsession with the effects of light and shade. This representation of the saint in an austere interior setting with an open window was directly inspired by Caravaggio’s “Calling of Saint Matthew” in the church of San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome. The figure was in part an excuse for the painter to depict the myriad still-life elements so accurately portrayed that make up the majority of the canvas and contribute to the enigmatic quality of the image. Frame: running moulding, gilded. Italy (Rome), c. 1700. Made for the work.

We are grateful to Professor Anna Ottani Cavina who confirms the attribution of the painting to the so-called Pensionante di Saraceni. Professor Ottani Cavina compares it to the Corsini Cuoca and the Boston Stoning of St. Stephen and dates it early in the artist’s career, ca. 1615. ❖