Viterbo c. 1590 – Rome 1625
St. Jerome in his Study with Two Angels
Oil on canvas
Florence, Uffizi Galleries, Palatine Gallery
Inv. Palatina no. 417
In the shadow of the room, an oblique ray of light, coming from the left, illuminates the scene with accomplished accuracy: the two angels are watching and indicating St Jerome, who is extremely focused, intent on writing: the Saint’s head, with light shining on his thin, white hair and his beard, is looking down at the white papers; alongside him, there is a crucifix and a book open at Durer’s Nuremberg engraving of the Virgin with Child. It is likely that Bartolomeo Cavarozzi knew Albrecht Durer’s famous etching because he had kept company with his protector, Giovan Battista Crescenzi, refined “amateur d'estampes”.
The material consistency of the various objects on the woodworm infested table is expressed using luminism, which the artist had studied: an open book and another two closed ones, sporting vellum binding and printed Moroccan leather, the small, shiny metal bucket with sprinkler for holy water, the skull as a memento mori, the hourglass and the rosary. It is an extraordinary still life piece, emblematic of Cavarozzi’s marked tendency to camouflage, recalled by the sources of his time “... he set about painting from nature with great diligence and with the trappings of a great passion...“ and recently reiterated by the most highly esteemed critics, referring to the artist with his hefty portfolio of still lifes. In the composition, characterised by brown, grey and white shades, the bright red colour of St Jerome’s robe stands out as it falls onto the table in vibrant drapes.