Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year and paintings about translation

Just back from a lovely Christmas with my family (in Texas, for a change). I had the pleasure of seeing the Caravaggio exhibition at the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth and thought it would make a nice note to end the year on.

One of the fascinating features of this exhibition was the inclusion of paintings by followers of Caravaggio.The exhibition is structured in themed 'rooms', one of which is dedicated to St. Jerome. It turns out that Caravaggio's imitators have quite a different vision of Jerome to the one I was used to. Earlier paintings by Jan van Eyck, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Antonello da Messina portray him in elaborate interiors with big libraries and lots of kit. He also tends to be rather formally dressed for someone who works from home. The paintings after Caravaggio portray a rather different translation context. It's night, not day. Jerome hasn't bothered to finish dressing. He might or might not be sitting at a desk. Lions don't feature as prominently.

Of the four St. Jerome paintings in the exhibition, my favourites were Bartolomeo Cavarozzi's 'St. Jerome in his Study with Two Angels' (c.1617) of which I couldn't find a convincing image online, and Jusepe de Ribera's weatherbeaten, great-outdoorsy St. Jerome of c.1613:

There is also Trophime Bigot's 'Saint Jerome Reading', aka 'Saint Jerome and the Itty-Bitty Book Light'.

I very much like the painting below by Leonello Spada from the Galleria Nazionale in Rome, not in the exhibition but in the same tradition. The bare feet...The eyeglasses...The sitting with the laptop sorry manuscript in his lap...The candle burned down to the socket...:

For anyone in hailing distance of Fort Worth, the exhibition runs another week until 8 January. To all readers of this blog, a very happy New Year and best wishes from Southsea.

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