Matthias Stomer received his early artistic training from the master Gerrit van Honthorst, a member of the Utrecht School, together with the most famous Dutch painters of the time: Hendrick ter Brugghen, Dirck van Baburen, and Abraham Bloemaert. They distinguished themselves by the ability to assimilate Caravaggio’s lessons during their travels in Italy, and it is logical to assume that the training they received influenced Stomer’s early production. He undertook his journey to Italy in 1630: he first went to Rome, where he remained until 1633. Subsequently, his presence is documented in Naples until 1637. This period was particularly prosperous for the artist, who came very close to the production of Spagnoletto and the expressive vigour of his brushstrokes. The last decade of his life was spent in Sicily, where he remained until his death. His palette became warmer, but the contrasts of light reached their peak, dazzling the viewer in the large altarpieces he painted for churches throughout the region. The painting we are observing results from a painstaking study of anatomy, typical of the Flemish tradition but indebted in its chiaroscuro contrasts and composition to Roman Caravaggism. Saint Jerome is depicted in his most traditional form: elderly and bare-chested, meditating on the Scriptures. The dark background enhances the saint’s bare torso, stretched out and turned backward. The light does not invest the body but caresses it, improving its movement
Bibl.: A. Zalapì in, Dipinti caravaggheschi, 2000, pp. 48-79, 83-88; B. Nicolson, Caravaggism in Europe, Turin 1990, vol. III.