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Saint Jerome in his Study
Reymerswale, Marinus van
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Reymerswale, Marinus van

Reimerswaal (Netherlands), 1489 - Goes (Netherlands), 1546

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Saint Jerome in his Study

1541. Oil on panel.
Room 057A

The painting played a major role in the rediscovery of Marinus’ work, in particular its relation to the production of Albrecht Dürer. It carries the date of 1521, the year that Dürer visited Antwerp and painted a Saint Jerome for Rui (Rodrigo) Fernandes de Almada, now in Lisbon (Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, inv. 828). Although it was suspected early on that the signature and date must be false, the picture continued to be cited as evidence for the early reception of Dürer’s work in Antwerp. However, a recent dendrochronological examination of the painting revealed that the planks of the panel could not have been used prior to 1535, which refutes the idea that after a period of twenty years Marinus reproduced a model without any stylistic or formal changes or developments. Marinus painted this composition several times. Another example in the Prado is signed and dated 1541 (P2653), which is more likely the date around which this version was painted. Both works, almost identical in size, are based on the same model. The signature and date of the copy discussed here must have been added before the painting entered the royal collection and points toward a conscious attempt to increase the value of the picture by adding a date that suggests it was made during Dürer’s lifetime.

The prominence in the open Bible of the Last Judgement copied after a print by Dürer, accompanying an excerpt of the Gospel of Matthew, and the saint pointing to the skull as a sign of worldly transience sets Marinus’ version apart from the Lisbon painting, where the focus is the saint’s gesture of melancholic reflection. Dürer made several preparatory studies, among them one of the head made after a life model (Staatliche Museum zu Berlin Kupferstichkabinett, inv. KdZ 38). The precise characterisation of the physiognomy of the figure, with its wrinkled forehead and sunken cheeks, emphasised with considerable white highlights, is reminiscent of Marinus’ meticulous modelling of Saint Jerome’s aged face with fine brush strokes. The formal proximity suggests that Marinus was familiar with Dürer’s technique and compositions and that he saw works of this kind in Antwerp, which he would have referred to in his later adaptations of the theme. The visual similarity may be one reason why his variants of Saint Jerome were so successful and were often attributed to the circle of Dürer in the following centuries.

The painting can be identified in the inventory of the Royal Palace in Madrid drawn up after the fire in 1734, when it was listed as an original by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). A copy of "Saint Jerome" after Dürer was already recorded in the Alcázar in Madrid in 1666. It was again mentioned in 1686 and in 1700, on these occasions together with four other versions classified as "copy after" or "school of Dürer". Three of those paintings survived the fire of 1734 and were moved to the Buen Retiro Palace in 1747. The royal inventories of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries list more than one painting of Saint Jerome associated with Dürer or regarded as a copy after him. Given the popularity of the subject in the sixteenth century, it is often impossible to determine from their description alone whether they were works by Dürer, Joos van Cleve (c. 1485-1540/41), Quinten Massys (1466-1530), Marinus, or other artists. The version under discussion here entered the Royal Palace, where it was recorded in 1811 and 1814. Its enigmatic signature, obscured by a later retouching, may explain why in 1843 it was listed as the work of an unknown artist (Christine Seidel in Marinus. Painter from Reymerswale, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2021, pp. 114-116).


Technical data

Related artworks

Inventory number
Reymerswale, Marinus van
Saint Jerome in his Study
Height: 75 cm; Width: 101 cm
Royal Collection (Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, primera sala de la Furriera, 1747, nº 132; Palacio del Buen Retiro, Madrid, pieza anteoratorio, 1772, nº 132; Palacio Real, Madrid, habitación del infante don Carlos-quinta pieza, 1814-1818, nº 132).

Bibliography +

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Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 541-542.

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Castillo-Ojugas, Antonio, La Reumatologia en el Arte, Emisa, Madrid, 1987, pp. 49/ lám.73.

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Milkers, Anne, Omtrent Marinus van Reymerswaele, Gante, 1990, pp. 169-174 nº 6.

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Other inventories +

Inv. Felipe V, Palacio Nuevo, 1747. Núm. 132.
PINTURAS EXISTENTES ANTIGUAS [...] En la primera Sala de este Oficio [...] {10350} 132 / Otra en tabla de vara y quarta de largo y vara escasa de caida san Geronimo original de Alberto Durero en 5 mil rs.

Inv. Carlos III, Buen Retiro, 1772. Núm. 132.
Pieza Anteoratorio [...] {14436} 132 / Otra [pintura] en tabla San Jeronimo de medio cuerpo con un libro y una calavera escuela antigua vara y quarta de largo y vara escasa de alto

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. 132.
Habitacion del Señor Infante Don Carlos [...] Quinta pieza [...] {21845} 132 / vara y media largo cinco quartas alto San Jeronimo vestido de Cardenal con vn Santisimo Cristo y un breviario sobre una mesa y una calabera entre las manos = Alberto Durero

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 1421.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 2100.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 2100.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 977.
Mdad (sic). Autor desconocido que firma así el siguiente cuadro en el año 1521. / 977. San Geronimo meditando sobre el Juicio Final. / Tiene delante una calvera (Media figura) (Tabla) / Alto 2 Pies, 10 Pulg; Ancho 3 Pies, 10 Pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 977.

Inscriptions +

Marinus me fecit · año · 1521 [añadido posteriormente]
Inscribed. Front, central left area

Inscribed in white. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed in red color. Front, lower right corner

Exhibitions +

Marinus. Pintor de Reymerswale
09.03.2021 - 13.06.2021

Location +

Room 057A (On Display)


Displayed objects +


Bible: La inscripción reproduce el texto latino que corresponde a Mateo 25, 31-46.



Candlestick, non-vitrious: Candelero de metal plateado


Glasses: ¿Anteojos binoculares de puente articulado?; estarían medio plegados e insertos en su funda.


Update date: 09-04-2022 | Registry created on 27-03-2021

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