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The Dramatic Image: Baroque Prints of the 17th Century

Bartolomeo Coriolano
Italian, active 1627–1653
After Guido Reni
Italian, 1575–1642

St. Jerome

Chiaroscuro woodcut in black, brown, and olive
Winthrop H. Perry Fund, 1961.17

The Toledo Museum of Art has three different versions of Bartolomeo Coriolano’s St. Jerome, showing variations in the printing, including differences in the colors and the words printed on the sheets. In chiaroscuro woodcuts, a different carved block was used for each color. The blocks were then inked and printed onto paper, one over the other, carefully lined up to make a complete image. The intent was to more closely mimic the modeling and depth of a painting.

Considered to be among Coriolano’s masterworks, this image of Saint Jerome is related to a painting by Guido Reni in the National Gallery, London. Saint Jerome (about 342–420) was an early Christian theologian, writer, and hermit known for his scholarship. He is revered primarily for his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate). Here he is shown in hermit’s surroundings contemplating a crucifix.

Coriolano worked almost exclusively with Guido Reni, translating the artist’s paintings into prints. Eighteen of Coriolano’s known twenty-one prints are after designs by the renowned Baroque painter.