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The Dramatic Image: Baroque Prints of the 17th Century

Jan Lievens
Dutch, 1607–1674

St. Jerome in Penitence

Etching, about 1631
William J. Hitchcock Fund in memory of Grace J. Hitchcock, 1987.193

St. Jerome sits, head humbly bent in devotion to a crucifix he holds. Light radiates behind his head like a halo. A second light source illuminates the ground and the saint’s body. Quickly drawn etched lines convey a nervous energy in this print. There is confusion as to whether the scene is interior or exterior—a wall holds the saint’s cardinal hat and an hourglass, but a tree grows in the space.Jan Lievens was a contemporary of Rembrandt; indeed, the two artists studied with the same Dutch master, Pieter Lastman, while sharing a studio in Leiden. Lievens was influenced by both Dutch and Flemish Baroque art and especially the work of Anthony van Dyck. His last years were troubled by debt, not unlike Rembrandt, and he spent his remaining life wandering and alone.