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Britto, Giovanni (German, active 1530-1550), Engraver
Titian, Vecelli (Italian, b.1477-1489, d.1576), After
St Jerome in the Wilderness
Circa 1530
woodcut on paper
395 x 540 mm
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Given 1982 by Mary, Dora and Esmond de Beer through the National Art Collections Fund, London.
This is one of the most beautiful of the landscape woodcuts designed by the great Venetian Renaissance artist, Tiziano Vecellio or Titian, as he is known in English. Titian designed some of the largest and most influential woodcuts in the history of the medium. He worked closely with a number of specialist woodcutters – in this case Giovanni Britto – who was originally from Germany, where woodcutting had a long tradition, especially in the production of illustrated books. It is thought that Titian would have drawn directly onto the woodblock, then supervised the cutting of the design.
The subject of St Jerome in the desert was a popular one. One of the fathers of the Catholic Church, he spent several years in the deserts of Syria studying Hebrew so that he could translate the Bible into Latin. According to legend, he pulled a thorn from the paw of a lion, which became his devoted companion. In the woodcut, the saint is overwhelmed by the lush (and not very desert-like) landscape. The inclusion of not one but three lions suggests that the subject is pre-eminently a means to display Titian’s inventive powers in depicting landscape – a subject that was synonymous with Venetian Renaissance art

not on view

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