Giovanni Battista Tiepolo - inv. 446

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770)

Death of Saint Jerome
1732-1733 c.
33 x 44,2 cm
1934 acquisition 
Inv. 446

18th Century Venetian Room
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Saint Jerome lies in the foreground, stretched out on a piece of matting with the objects of his hermit life next to him: the skull, the cross, the Holy Scriptures and a rosary. Seven angels suspended in a semi-circle are weeping saint. Low down, on the right, there is a landscape with trees, buildings in the distance and outlines of mountains. The figure of the saint is bathed by an intense light that emphasises his worn, old body. His ashen-coloured face, with its closed sunken eyes, long white beard and half-open mouth, is intensely expressive.
The quick brushwork strokes and the barely sketched faces of the angels show that this was an oil sketch.

The painting can be considered a pendant of another one, whit the same measures, in the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart: the Holy Communion of Saint Jerome, with which has in common the richness of the painting and the light. Scholars propose a dating of 1732-1733, when Tiepolo was working in the Colleoni Chapel in Bergamo cathedral on the Stories of John the Baptist. There, as in this sketch, the composition is organized on two parallel levels and a slightly diagonal line.

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo was one of the greatest exponents of the Venetian eighteenth century painting. He developed his own scenographic style is recognisable for its light, bright colours and fluent composition. And it was these characteristics that led to his international fame, so that he would work far outside the boundaries of Venice for the great courts of Würzburg in Germany, and Madrid in Spain.