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Studies & Designs: St Jerome and the Lion
John Whessell (c.1760-1806) after Wilson
Studies & Designs: St Jerome and the Lion
Published 1811
Soft-ground etching, with etching
138 x 209 mm
5 7/16 x 8 1/4 in.
St Jerome and the lion are depicted in a forest, the lion lying in front of a cave or hollowed tree, with the Saint discernible inside - all within an etched rectangular border
Lettered below the image 'Wilson del | Whessell. Sc'
Lettered lower centre below the image: 'Oxford Pub by R Archer Octr 1810'
St Jerome (342-420 AD), one of the four Latin Doctors of the Church, was an ascetic, best known for his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate) and frequently represented in western art. Born in Dalmatia (Croatia) he was often depicted with a lion, in reference to the popular belief that he had tamed one in the wilderness by healing its paw. Hagiographies record his having spent many years in the Syrian desert, and artists often depict him in the wilderness, or a wood or forest. Notwithstanding the dominance of the wooded landscape here, as a religious subject this is highly unusual for Wilson.
D53/16 Studies and Designs done in Rome in the Year 1752, p. 16, Victoria & Albert Museum, London
From a set of small soft-ground etchings by Whessell at the British Museum ( E60/1- E60/44). These were made after Wilson's drawings in the sketchbook of the same title at the Victoria & Albert Museum (D53-D53/81). The present one is taken from p. 16 (D53/16). In 1811 the etchings were published by the Oxford-based publisher, Robert Archer in more than one format - this one with an introduction and list of subscribers. The present plate, however, is dated October 1810.