With its collections of ancient, modern and contemporary art, the Musée de Grenoble offers you a chance to traverse the history of western painting from the 13th to the 20th centuries. Included are major masterpieces of classical Flemish, Dutch, Italian and Spanish painting; one of 20th century Europe’s richest collections; and all the great post-1945 contemporary art trends, right up to the most recent artworks of the 2000s.
Renowned in his day and then totally forgotten about, thanks to research and exhibitions, Georges de La Tour now has a prominent place in French 17th century painting. His genre scenes and religious pictures are imbued with an entirely re-appropriated Caravaggio-like inspiration.
This St. Jerome, which comes from the abbey church of Saint-Antoine en Viennois, is a noteworthy masterpiece in the collection. The monumental figure of the injured saint, lost in meditation, seems to bow to the format of the canvas, contained as it is in a space that is also too cramped. On a bare and sombre background, the silhouette of the old man stands out, offering us his worn flesh and the frailty of his human condition. The construction of the body using large diagonals heightens the architectural and monumental character of the figure, which is underscored by the lateral lighting. The monochrome aspect of the décor highlights the beige-ochre hue of the skin and the restrained red of the drapery. The fine, thin paint of the whole piece becomes thicker with very virtuoso brush strokes in the hair of the beard and the saint’s hair. The open Bible, which Jerome was one of the first to translate, the blood-flecked cord of penitence, the skull in the still lifes and the firmly clutched crucifix are all elements which bolster the high spirituality of the scene. As with most of his works which were readily repeated in several versions, another less austere St. Jerome is held in the National Museum in Stockholm.
Georges de La Tour
(Vic-Sur-Seille, 1593 - Lunéville, 1652)
St. Jerome, circa 1630-33
157 x 100 cm
© Musée de Grenoble