Never before has the masterpiece Saint Jerome and Saint Catherine of Alexandria been on view in a museum. The painting arrived at the Rijksmuseum
this week on long-term loan from the Broere Charitable Foundation, from which a number of works have been on display at the Rijksmuseum since 2012. The panel was painted between 1480 and 1490 in Bruges or Brussels and shows Saint Jerome and Saint Catherine of Alexandria seated behind a gilded arcade, with a panoramic landscape in the background. This highly detailed painting is of high quality and in good condition.
The painting is being exhibited at the Rijksmuseum from today.
Taco Dibbits, General Director of the Rijksmuseum: Thanks to this generous loan from the Broere Charitable Foundation, we are able to introduce our visiting public to 15th-century painting of the Southern Netherlands, which is hardly represented in Dutch museums.
Matthias Ubl, Curator of Early Netherlandish Painting: Comparable 15th-century works rarely come on the market, and this exceptional South Netherlandish work fills a gap in the Rijksmuseum collection.
Eye for detail
Jerome and Catherine are seated in a garden on a turf bench in front of a rose hedge. Jerome is accompanied by the lion. At Catherines feet lies a smouldering, broken wooden wheel, and beside her, a sword: both are symbols of her martyrdom. The princess Catharine was a role-model for wealthy, courtly women and she is shown as such in the painting. Her hair is shaven high on her forehead in accordance with the fashion of the time, and she wears a silk fur-lined robe. The precious heart-shaped book she holds probably contains secular love songs.
The unknown artist worked after the style of the Brussels painter Rogier van der Weyden. The tracery and the figure of Jerome are reminiscent of paintings by Van der Weyden, and Catherines hands and heart-shaped book recall two portraits by the Master of the View of Saint Gudule, who was active in Brussels. In the foreground, plants including the wood violet, dandelion and columbine are painted very true to life. In the background is a panoramic landscape featuring Late Gothic buildings, a pond with two swans and, in the distance, the contours of a city and mountains beyond.
Broere Charitable Foundation collection
In addition to Saint Jerome and Saint Catherine of Alexandria, in recent years the Broere Charitable Foundation has long-term loaned to the Rijksmuseum eight important examples of Netherlandish and international painting and sculpture, including Dutch Ships in a Calm Sea by Willem van de Velde II (1665), Mars and Venus Surprised by Vulcan by Joachim Wtewael (1610), Christ among the Doctors by Orazio Borgianni (1609), The Meeting of Odysseus and Nausicaa by Jacob Jordaans (c. 1630-1640), and Satyr and Nymph by Gerard van Honthorst (1623).
Saint Jerome and Saint Catherine of Alexandria is on display in gallery 0.4