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San Girolamo nello Studio Antonello da Messina.


Public library Zwijndrecht Belgium 2006.


The world of the recluse. Stefaan van Biesen's philosophical path.

Many will have looked at the painting “San Girolamo nello studio” by Antonello da Messina in the London National Gallery with certain amazement and questioning eyes. San Girolamo is better known as Hieronymus. The Saint is mostly represented as a hermit who lives in poor circumstances. Let’s think about the famous painting of Jeroen Bosch in the Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent, Belgium. We see the recluse who has thrown himself in front of the crucifix, only dressed in his undergarment. Behind him, a serene and most beautiful landscape unfolds, to which the hermit pays no attention.


Antonella da Messina pictures the recluse in his study, an open construction in which the church father withdraws. His wooden construction is part of a bigger picture, an imaginary, gothic room which could refer to a church as well as to a palazzo. Slender pillars and vistas with a view on the landscape, only meant for the viewer, not for the character who has withdrawn in that space. He has retired voluntarily in a firmly structured studio with only walls. The studio is somewhat elevated above the world, it is like a stage. The learned church father is reading a book and is surrounded by several objects. He observes the world through educational material, not through direct observation. He observes the world in which he has retired. Let’s not forget that the man is a monk and a scholar who is responsible for the Latin standard version of the bible, the Vulgate. His cardinalate was assigned posthumously, therefore the red mantle and cardinal’s hat, attributes with which he is mostly represented.

Daan Rau


Model Skin 2003.


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©stefaan van biesen-annemie mestdagh 30.05.2017