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Landscape with Saint Jerome

Attributed to Bles Hendrick met de called Civetta

(Bouvignes? c. 1510 - after 1554)

This painting was executed in the circle of Hendrick met de Bles, called Civetta. It seems to derive from a panel with a similar subject by Joachim Patenier, held at the National Gallery of London. It depicts Saint Jerome, who is shown here in the centre of the composition together with a lion, following the tradition that the saint extracted a thorn from its paw. In the distance, a caravan of men and camels moves towards a small village: this motif also forms part of the legend surrounding the hermit, which narrates the theft of a donkey by a group of merchants riding camels, who are then forced by a lion to return the animal to its rightful owner.


Object details

Inventory
363
Location
Date
c. 1540
Classification
Period
Medium
oil on panel
Dimensions
26 x 39 cm
Frame

Salvator Rosa, 33 x 175 x 7 cm

Provenance

Rome, Borghese Collection, 1693 (Inv. 1693, room I, no. 46; Della Pergola 1959); Inventario Fidecommissario 1833, p. 35; purchased by Italian state, 1902

Exhibitions
  • 2000 Namur, Musée des Arts anciens
Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1903-05 Luigi Bartolucci;
  • 1952 Augusto Vermehren;
  • 1995 Carlo Festa;
  • 2010 Laura Ferretti.

Commentary

Of unknown provenance, this painting is first documented in connection to the Borghese Collection in 1693. In the inventory of that year it undoubtedly corresponds to the ‘oblong work one span high with villages and rocky mountains and a small figure’. The compiler of this document listed it as number ‘204’, which is still visible in the bottom right hand corner. The inventory ascribed the panel to Civetta, a name which was subsequently forgotten: it does not appear in connection with the work in the 1833 Inventario Fidecommissario, while for his part Venturi (1893) timidly ascribed it to Joachim Patenier. The attribution to Civetta was only revived in the 20th century by Giulio Cantalamessa (Note manoscritte; see Della Pergola 1959).

In 1928, Roberto Longhi maintained that the composition dated to a later period with respect to Patenier’s style. He pointed to its similarities with another Landscape in the Borghese Collection (inv. no. 359) and suggested that the work in question was in the manner of Valckenborch. Paola della Pergola (1959) disagreed and in spite of Leo van Puyvelde’s (1950) negative opinion claimed that the work had much in common with two panels preserved in Milan (private collection) and London (National Gallery), respectively, the latter having already been attributed to Patenier (De Tolnay 1956). Nonetheless, on that occasion Della Pergola was not able to establish whether the work in question was a derivation of the painting in London, or whether both derived from an older exemplar. This uncertainty was only resolved in 2000, when Luc Serck identified the common prototype in Madrid (Prado Museum, no. 1614).

As in other works by the Flemish painter, this painting shows a number of details which he borrowed from other contemporary compositions, such as the procession of camels from Girolamo da Carpi’s Landscape (Galleria Borghese, inv. no. 8), which Civetta most likely saw in Ferrara, where the painter worked at the Este court.

Antonio Iommelli




Bibliography
  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 467;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 173;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 213:
  • L. van Puyvelde, La Peinture Flamande à Rome, Bruxelles 1950, p. 87;
  • C. De Tolnay, An Unknown Early Panel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, in Scritti di Storia dell’Arte in onore di Lionello Venturi, I, Roma 1956, p. 419;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, II, Roma 1959, pp. 174-175, n. 257;
  • L. Serck, in Autour de Henri Bles, catalogo della mostra (Namur Musée des Arts Anciens du Namurois, 2000), a cura di Société Archéologique de Namur, Namur 2000, p. 232, n. 38;
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, Galleria Borghese Roma scopre un tesoro. Dalla pinacoteca ai depositi un museo che non ha più segreti, San Giuliano Milanese 2006, p. 119.