New acquisition

This old man retreated into the woods. Attentively, he gazes into the distance, as if he focusses on God. With the stone in his right hand, he is about to torture his skinny chest. This greybeard is Saint Jerome (ca. 347–420). During the first half of the sixteenth century, his life was a popular subject for painters. This work was presumably painted in the workplace of Pieter Coecke van Aelst (1502–1550); a multifaceted artist and entrepreneur. His workshop did not only produce paintings but also designs for stained-glass windows and tapestries. The artist used visual elements from Italian art of that time. In this painting, he, for example, places the Saint in open air. In this period, artworks with Italian visual elements were very much appreciated at the court of emperor Charles V (1500 – 1558). The hilly landscape in the background, however, shows similarities with the work of other painters of the Southern Netherlands. The landscape in particular resembles that of the Flight to Egypt (1542) by Lucas Gassel (1490-1568), which is also part of the Bonnefanten Collection.

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Saint Jerome was purchased in 2020 with the support of the VriendenLoterij and is a welcome addition to the collection. It fits well with our sub-collection Southern Netherlandish art in general and 16th century painting from this region in particular. In addition, this work complements our collection of paintings of Van Coecke van Aelst. Next to this painting, the Bonnefanten owns three other works from (the workshop of) the Coecke van Aelst, i.e. the Throne of mercy, Entry into Jerusalem and the Holy Family.

Pieter Coecke van Aelst (attributed to)
S. Jerome, ca. 1500-1550
Object number 1006549
Oil paint on panel, 66.5 x 51 cm
Collection Bonnefanten, acquired with support of the VriendenLoterij.
Photographer: Peter Cox