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Lot No. 84


Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called il Guercino


(Cento 1591–1666 Bologna)
The Vision of Saint Jerome,
oil on canvas, 42.9 x 50.4 cm, framed

Provenance:
Possibly Cardinal Ludovisi, Rome, 1633;
Collection of William Douglas-Hamilton, 12th Duke of Hamilton;
his sale, Christie’s, London, 24 June 1882, lot 350;
sold to ‘J. Knowles’ for £16,16s;
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Fielding Lewis Marshall, Chicago;
their sale, Sotheby’s, London, 31 December 1973 - 8 January 1974, lot 77 (the auction was cancelled following the publication of the catalogue);
their sale, Bonham’s, London, 28 March 1974, lot 36;
where acquired by the present owner

Literature:
G. B. Passeri, Vite de’ pittori, scultori ed architetti, che anno lavorato in Roma, morti dal 1641 fino al 1673, in: J. Hess (ed.), Die Künstlerbiographien von Giovanni Battista Passeri, Leipzig 1934, p. 354;
L. Salerno, I Dipinti del Guercino, Rome 1988, p. 139, mentioned under no. 60 (as a copy);
S. Loire, Musée du Louvre, département des peintures. Ecole Italienne, XVIIe siècle: 1. Bologne, Paris 1996, p. 242 (under copies);
N. Turner, The paintings of Guercino, Rome 2017, pp. 216-219, 340, no. 85.I (as a trial version for the Louvre copper, by Guercino)

Originally part of the collection of William Douglas-Hamilton, 12th Duke of Hamilton (1845-1895), the present painting, which is of a devotional subject, appears to be the bozzetto or trial version for the final work painted on copper of the Vision of Saint Jerome conserved in the Musée du Louvre, Paris (inv. no. 82). As compared to the work in the Louvre, which is of similar size (41.5 x 47.5 cm) and was once in the collection of Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi (1595-1632), the handling of paint in this bozzetto or study is deployed with swift, fine brushstrokes, and the chiaroscuro is less demarcated. A slender border circumscribes the canvas, interrupted at certain points by overlaps of colour: this margin loosely corresponds to the proportions of the final version. Through the analysis of this work on canvas it has emerged that there are various pentimenti both on the right knee and the left foot of the saint. Even the skull among the large books at lower right appears to be a little smaller, as compared to the one in the version on copper, likewise the pages of the book left open are unmarked.

While it is certain that the version in the Louvre corresponds to that described in the 1623 Ludovisi inventory, it is possible – as Turner has proposed in his catalogue raisonné of Guercino – that the present painting on canvas is the one listed in the cardinal’s post mortem inventory of 1633. Indeed, at number 97 we read of: ‘Un San Girolamo disteso con un Angelo che gli suona la tromba sopra: alto palmi due et un quarto cornice dorata, et intagliata di mano del Guercino’ [‘A Saint Jerome reclining with an Angel above blowing a trumpet: two and a quarter palmi high, carved and gilded frame, by the hand of Guercino’]. The work listed is not described as on copper, and additionally the dimensions correspond to those of the likely original frame of the present painting. Finally, in 1679 Giovanni Battista Passeri mentions in his Vite a painting representing: ‘Un San Girolamo figura intiera in atto prostrato sopra d’un sasso rivolto al Cielo con le braccia stese, mostrando d’essere atterrito dal suono della tromba, che udirassi nell’universale Giudizio, figura assai di buon gusto e di buona maniera’ [‘A Saint Jerome, full size figure prostrate on a rock turned to the Heavens with arms outstretched, revealing how he has been brought down by the sound of the trumpet that will be heard at the Last Judgement, a figure of very good taste and good style’]. The author does not indicate the location of the work, although it is unlikely that he was referring to the version in the Louvre as this was already in France by 1662.

The composition of the Saint Jerome was initially conceived within a vertical format. In a drawing in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Guercino turns the figure upside down to represent an elderly bearded man fallen to the ground near a chair (inv. no. WA2012.59): this could be a study from life for the painting. There is also another drawing in the above mentioned format in private collection in Florence in which Guercino trials the notion of the saint with uplifted arms with the trumpeting angel, while a drawing in the Courtauld Gallery, London (inv. no. D.1952.RW.3486.1) – attributed to Donato Creti but which should probably be restored to the Emilian master – can also be connected to the present composition in which the artist adds a rocky outcrop or ruined wall between the body of the saint and the landscape so as to provide a dark background against which the luminous form of the figure is depicted.

Guercino is among the artists that most frequently used the figure of Saint Jerome as a subject, as witnessed by the many paintings, altar pieces and drawings with varying models and expressions, thus reflecting the depth and intensity of his studies round this theme. The composition with the Vision of Saint Jerome is among his best resolved works, and likely the most popular of his small format paintings, such that it was reproduced by the artist himself, by his assistants and subsequent copyists. Indeed, there are more than fifteen versions of the present subject, the majority of which are copies, all of about the same size. In addition to the present autograph painting, another version on canvas (44.5 x 50.5 cm), in a private collection, appears to be by Guercino (Turner 2017, p. 219, fig. 178). The latter, which more closely follows the version in the Louvre than the bozzetto under discussion, reveals fewer corrections in the underlying drawing: it would therefore be subsequent to the two earlier versions wherein there are differences in the scale of the angel and the open book.

Specialist: Mark MacDonnell Mark MacDonnell
+43 1 515 60 403

mark.macdonnell@dorotheum.at

10.11.2020 - 16:00

Realized price: **
EUR 45,300.-
Estimate:
EUR 25,000.- to EUR 30,000.-

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called il Guercino


(Cento 1591–1666 Bologna)
The Vision of Saint Jerome,
oil on canvas, 42.9 x 50.4 cm, framed

Provenance:
Possibly Cardinal Ludovisi, Rome, 1633;
Collection of William Douglas-Hamilton, 12th Duke of Hamilton;
his sale, Christie’s, London, 24 June 1882, lot 350;
sold to ‘J. Knowles’ for £16,16s;
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Fielding Lewis Marshall, Chicago;
their sale, Sotheby’s, London, 31 December 1973 - 8 January 1974, lot 77 (the auction was cancelled following the publication of the catalogue);
their sale, Bonham’s, London, 28 March 1974, lot 36;
where acquired by the present owner

Literature:
G. B. Passeri, Vite de’ pittori, scultori ed architetti, che anno lavorato in Roma, morti dal 1641 fino al 1673, in: J. Hess (ed.), Die Künstlerbiographien von Giovanni Battista Passeri, Leipzig 1934, p. 354;
L. Salerno, I Dipinti del Guercino, Rome 1988, p. 139, mentioned under no. 60 (as a copy);
S. Loire, Musée du Louvre, département des peintures. Ecole Italienne, XVIIe siècle: 1. Bologne, Paris 1996, p. 242 (under copies);
N. Turner, The paintings of Guercino, Rome 2017, pp. 216-219, 340, no. 85.I (as a trial version for the Louvre copper, by Guercino)

Originally part of the collection of William Douglas-Hamilton, 12th Duke of Hamilton (1845-1895), the present painting, which is of a devotional subject, appears to be the bozzetto or trial version for the final work painted on copper of the Vision of Saint Jerome conserved in the Musée du Louvre, Paris (inv. no. 82). As compared to the work in the Louvre, which is of similar size (41.5 x 47.5 cm) and was once in the collection of Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi (1595-1632), the handling of paint in this bozzetto or study is deployed with swift, fine brushstrokes, and the chiaroscuro is less demarcated. A slender border circumscribes the canvas, interrupted at certain points by overlaps of colour: this margin loosely corresponds to the proportions of the final version. Through the analysis of this work on canvas it has emerged that there are various pentimenti both on the right knee and the left foot of the saint. Even the skull among the large books at lower right appears to be a little smaller, as compared to the one in the version on copper, likewise the pages of the book left open are unmarked.

While it is certain that the version in the Louvre corresponds to that described in the 1623 Ludovisi inventory, it is possible – as Turner has proposed in his catalogue raisonné of Guercino – that the present painting on canvas is the one listed in the cardinal’s post mortem inventory of 1633. Indeed, at number 97 we read of: ‘Un San Girolamo disteso con un Angelo che gli suona la tromba sopra: alto palmi due et un quarto cornice dorata, et intagliata di mano del Guercino’ [‘A Saint Jerome reclining with an Angel above blowing a trumpet: two and a quarter palmi high, carved and gilded frame, by the hand of Guercino’]. The work listed is not described as on copper, and additionally the dimensions correspond to those of the likely original frame of the present painting. Finally, in 1679 Giovanni Battista Passeri mentions in his Vite a painting representing: ‘Un San Girolamo figura intiera in atto prostrato sopra d’un sasso rivolto al Cielo con le braccia stese, mostrando d’essere atterrito dal suono della tromba, che udirassi nell’universale Giudizio, figura assai di buon gusto e di buona maniera’ [‘A Saint Jerome, full size figure prostrate on a rock turned to the Heavens with arms outstretched, revealing how he has been brought down by the sound of the trumpet that will be heard at the Last Judgement, a figure of very good taste and good style’]. The author does not indicate the location of the work, although it is unlikely that he was referring to the version in the Louvre as this was already in France by 1662.

The composition of the Saint Jerome was initially conceived within a vertical format. In a drawing in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, Guercino turns the figure upside down to represent an elderly bearded man fallen to the ground near a chair (inv. no. WA2012.59): this could be a study from life for the painting. There is also another drawing in the above mentioned format in private collection in Florence in which Guercino trials the notion of the saint with uplifted arms with the trumpeting angel, while a drawing in the Courtauld Gallery, London (inv. no. D.1952.RW.3486.1) – attributed to Donato Creti but which should probably be restored to the Emilian master – can also be connected to the present composition in which the artist adds a rocky outcrop or ruined wall between the body of the saint and the landscape so as to provide a dark background against which the luminous form of the figure is depicted.

Guercino is among the artists that most frequently used the figure of Saint Jerome as a subject, as witnessed by the many paintings, altar pieces and drawings with varying models and expressions, thus reflecting the depth and intensity of his studies round this theme. The composition with the Vision of Saint Jerome is among his best resolved works, and likely the most popular of his small format paintings, such that it was reproduced by the artist himself, by his assistants and subsequent copyists. Indeed, there are more than fifteen versions of the present subject, the majority of which are copies, all of about the same size. In addition to the present autograph painting, another version on canvas (44.5 x 50.5 cm), in a private collection, appears to be by Guercino (Turner 2017, p. 219, fig. 178). The latter, which more closely follows the version in the Louvre than the bozzetto under discussion, reveals fewer corrections in the underlying drawing: it would therefore be subsequent to the two earlier versions wherein there are differences in the scale of the angel and the open book.

Specialist: Mark MacDonnell Mark MacDonnell
+43 1 515 60 403

mark.macdonnell@dorotheum.at


Buyers hotline Mon.-Fri.: 9.00am - 6.00pm
old.masters@dorotheum.at

+43 1 515 60 403
Auction: Old Master Paintings
Date: 10.11.2020 - 16:00
Location: Vienna | Palais Dorotheum
Exhibition: 04.11. - 10.11.2020


** Purchase price incl. charges and taxes

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