Saint Jerome Writing (Valletta)

Saint Jerome Writing (Valletta)

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Saint Jerome Writing (Valletta)

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Saint Jerome Writing is a painting by the Italian master Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio in 1607 or 1608, housed in the Oratory of St John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Malta. It can be compared with Caravaggio's earlier version of the same subject in the Borghese Gallery in Rome.

Caravaggio arrived in Malta on 12 July 1607. He had spent the previous months in Naples, where he had sought refuge with his powerful protectors the Colonna family after killing a man in a brawl in Rome the previous year. In Naples he had been an instant success, achieving ten commissions, including a number or large and very prestigious altarpieces, in less than a year, and inspiring a following of Caravaggisti among the city's artists. In short, in Naples he had found professional success, the esteem of fellow-artists, and the support of important patrons. Why then leave all this for a speck of rock inhabited by warrior-monks noted more for their fighting (Peter Robb compares them to the French Foreign Legion) than for their support of the arts? The following summarises the speculation of recent biographers such as Robb and Helen Langdon: In 1607 Caravaggio was still an outlaw, at risk of being tracked down by his enemies - the family of the man he had killed - and Naples, close to Rome, may have seemed comparatively exposed. His patrons and protectors - the Colonna, the Giustiniani, the banker Ottavio Costa, - had strong links with Malta and the Knights, and it may have been felt that joining the...
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