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Antonio Zanchi, Saint Jerome
Material and technique
oil on canvas
148 x 176,5 cm
Alessandro Zuccari
The painting narrates a strange episode in the life of St. Jerome: according to legend, the elderly Doctor of the Church was visited by an angel who announced his imminent death. Unlike Guercino and other artists who treated the same subject, Zanchi does not depict God’s messenger, only his trumpet, visible at the top of the painting. The drama of the scene is rendered through the reflection of the light on the semi-clothed body of the saint and on his purple cloak, alluding to the high office of cardinal, which in reality he was never granted. The light, learned from Caravaggio, barely touches the other elements that identify Jerome:  the skull indicating his meditation on death and the large tome recalling his great work of translating the Bible into Latin.
The skilful rendering of skin tone and the expressive use of chiaroscuro, as in the shadow on Jerome’s arm, are important examples of Zanchi’s ‘gloomy’ and sentimental style. His frequent use of heightened chiaroscuro effects and dark colours brought the artist considerable acclaim among his contemporaries. Indeed, all the leading ‘schools’ and religious congregations in Venice applied to him to paint their altarpieces and vast teleri.
Saint Jerome
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