Vision of Saint Jerome

Rembrandt(van Rijn), Rembrandt Harmenszoon (1606 - 1669)

Vision of Saint Jerome

Catalog# REMH-038

Nestled in the soft brush against the trunk of a tree in the wilderness, St. Jerome studies from a large text of scripture. Although depicted is his time as a hermit living in the wilderness, he is dressed in a heavy coat lined with fur – appearing a bit sophisticated for his coarse living. St. Jerome’s beard is full and long and his hair is hidden under a cap. His few possessions rest against the tree beside him. A lion (which according to legend became St. Jerome’s constant companion after he plucked a thorn from his paw), stands guard over St. Jerome. Although appearing very cat-like, the lion has large, powerful paws, and a long tail pulled down against its hide as he stands ready to pounce on anyone or thing that dares approach his companion. St. Jerome appears at ease and comfortable knowing that he is protected by the kind of beasts.

Rembrandt, known for his masterful contrasts between light and dark, depicts a sunny afternoon light with the empty spaces left in the composition. The dark shadow from the lion and the wilderness surrounding the figures gives the piece a dynamic contrast between the light of day and the dark corners of an unknown wilderness.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606 - 1669)

Known more commonly as only Rembrandt, he is considered a master of Western Art. With more than 600 paintings and 2,000 drawings and etchings, (and even more that have been lost as time passed) he is one of the most prolific artists of all time. The variety of the subjects used in his work is amazing when compared to others who specialized in only certain types of painting. Nudes, landscapes, portraits, everyday scenes, birds and animals, historical and mythological figures, biblical subjects, and self-portraits are all to be found in his creations.

Rembrandt was born in Leiden, The Netherlands on July 15, 1606, the son of a miller of modest means. His education was not neglected, but the university bored him and he later dropped out to study art. He began with a local teacher and then left to study in Amsterdam where he mastered his lessons in six months. He returned to Leiden and at only 22 was already taking on students. He moved back to Amsterdam in 1631 and later married Saskia van Uylenburgh, the cousin of a successful art dealer who would enhance his career, introducing him to wealthy patrons who commissioned portraits from him. His other paintings were greatly sought after and he was making enough money to afford a huge house filled with many famous works of art.

Unfortunately, however, his private life was not so successful. Of his and Saskia's four children, only one survived infancy and Saskia herself died in 1642. He was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1656 after his ostentatious lifestyle exceeded even the substantial funds he was making as a painter, teacher, and art dealer. He was forced to auction off his treasured art collection as well as his house. He began to focus more on painting for his own enjoyment rather than for commission and his paintings from this time are thought to be his best, showing a depth of richness and spirituality missing in the precise brush strokes of his earlier works.

Hendrickje Stoffels, a housekeeper whom he had hired in 1649, had become his common law wife and Rembrandt used her as a model for several of his paintings. He often called friends and family into his studio to serve as ideals for historical and mythological paintings, disguising them as portrayals of famous characters. Sadness still seemed to follow him, however, when in 1663 his second wife died, followed in 1668 with the death of his only surviving child, Titus. Rembrandt himself lived less than a year afterwards, dying on October 4, 1669.