Hendrick van Steenwyck the younger (Amsterdam circa 1580 – before 1649 London)
Saint Jerome in his Study, 1630
Oil on panel, 15¾ x 22 1/8 inches (40 x 56.2 cm)
Signed and dated: Henri V. Steinwick 1630
As early as the fifteenth century the Van Eycks established the Flemish tradition of placing sacred groups in imaginary interiors. Interest in imaginary architectural subjects for their own sake emerged among Nederlandish painters of the late Mannerist period. A popular sixteenth century specialist in this genre was Hendrick van Steenwyck the elder (c. 1556-1603). His son, Hendrick van Steenwyck the younger was trained by his father in Antwerp. The subjects of both father and son are similar; small perspective views and interiors, on copper or panel, were executed in a miniaturistic style. The works were widely influential among the artists of their day. Henrick van Steenwyck the younger moved away from Antwerp to work in Germany and finally settle in England. His paintings ultimately developed beyond those of his father, becoming much more varied in both subject and effects of lighting.
In Saint Jerome in his Study, Steenwyck has created an almost stereoscopic space by his precise command of perspective and accomplished handling of the light, which floods in from the windows and open doorway. We long to enter this delightful, exquisitely ordered room and explore the church beyond, yet scarcely dare to disturb the peaceful world of the scholar-saint who, with his loyal companion ever in attendance, labours over his translation of the Bible into Latin.