Title: St. Jerome in the Wilderness
Reed pen and iron gall ink on laid paper
Dimensions: Image/Sheet: 11 1/2 × 8 3/8 inches (29.2 × 21.3 cm);
Backing paper: 11 3/4 × 8 5/8 inches (29.8 × 21.9 cm)
Gift of Quinto Maganini
Scholar, theologian, and translator of the Bible into the Latin vulgate, St. Jerome also spent a period of five years as a hermit in the desert of Chalcis (present day Syria). In this drawing by one of the great figures of the Spanish baroque, the penitent saint is shorn of all of his usual attributes, save a lion from whose paw he pulled a thorn. Castillo often worked in a manner likely learned from artists in nearby Seville with a pen cut from a common reed. Castillo’s fondness for the subject bordered on obsession; at least nine St. Jerome drawings survive. This one reworks a version from the previous decade: here, Castillo has reconsidered the subject to render the saint more alert and engaging, the lion more actively on guard.
Like Jan Lievens’s take on St. Jerome (2000.143.005), Castillo has also portrayed the hermit saint as an elderly man. Yet, Castillo’s Jerome does not droop with the weight of devotion. Rather, the subtle, rhythmic strokes of the saint’s nude body and drapery lend an air of fervent devotion. (“Undressed: The Nude in Context, 1500-1750,” text by Andrew C. Weislogel and presented at the Johnson Museum February 9-June 16, 2019)
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.