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Friday 5 January 2018

Stefano Castellari’s etching after Herman van Swanevelt’s “St. Jerome in the Desert”, c1800

Stefano Castellari (1780–1821)

“Eremitaggio di S. Girolamo” (as inscribed on plate), c1800, copy after Herman van Swanevelt’s (c1603–55) etching, “St Jerome in the Desert”, 1650–55, from van Swanevelt’s series of four plates, “Landscapes with Penitent Saints”
Etching with engraving on wove paper trimmed along the image borderline but retaining the publication text line.
Size: (sheet, trimmed unevenly) 24 x 32.4 cm
Lettered on plate below the image borderline: (left) “Swanevelt inv.”; (centre) “Eremitaggio di S. Girolamo”; (right) Castellari in[…?]”

References for Herman van Swanevelt’s etching, “St Jerome in the Desert”:
TIB 2.109 (313) (Mark Carter Leach & Peter Morse [eds.] 1978, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Netherlandish Artists”, vol. 2, Abaris Books, New York, p. 313); Hollstein 14.II; Bartsch II.313.109

Condition: richly inked impression of what must be a very early state based on the crisp quality of the lines. The upper-left corner is restored and the sheet has been trimmed close to the image borderline. The back of the sheet has remnants of mounting hinges and traces of glue spots on the corners.

I am selling this etched copy after van Swanevelt’s print for the total cost of AU$115 (currently US$90.37/EUR74.97/GBP66.63 at the time of posting this listing). Unlike my usual listed prints with free shipping, the buyer will need to pay for the true cost of shipping for this print.

If you are interested in this very well executed etching that is a copy of van Swanevelt’s original print, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

This print could be a "problem" for collectors as it is copy AFTER van Swanevelt’s etching, "St Jerome in the Desert”. I have decided to showcase it, nevertheless, as the print almost “sings” with sparkling light and shadow.

Like most images of St Jerome in the wilderness, van Swanevelt's composition is full of allusions to the idea of St Jerome suffering like Christ with regard to the theme, “imitatio Christi” (i.e. salvation through imitating Christ). Nevertheless, there are deviations from the more common representation of the saint. For example, St Jerome is not portrayed as is often the case with his head weighed down in the way that Christ struggled with his unsupported head on the cross. Instead, St Jerome is shown resting his head in his left hand and covering his eyes. Even the treatment of the rugged rocky terrain is slightly unusual in the sense that the theme of showing St Jerome’s cave as “materia prima” (i.e. the earth’s womb or “first mother) is sidelined to the extent that the cave is not portrayed at all—unless I have misread the shadows on the far right. 

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