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A new drawing

Submitted on 3 March 2016
Saint Jerome
Jean-Jacques Henner, Saint-Jérôme, vers 1881,
Encre sur papier, 30 x 21,5 cm © Musée Henner

If Henner’s young redheaded women are part of the collective memory, several of his historical paintings made a big impression on his contemporaries. One of these is the representation of Saint Jerome which he presented at the Salon in 1881 and which was used as a model for this drawing.

His mastery of drawing

The powerful use of ink in this drawing showcases the strength of Henner as a graphic artist. In this composition, which has quite a bit of free space, he chose to represent the very moment when the saint, surprised by the voice of God, falls backwards.

A moving testimony …

Luckily, the drawing was still attached to the back of its original frame on which one can see several handwritten notes and labels, including one from the picture framer, P. Galès of 108 boulevard de Courcelles. One of the notes is particularly moving:

This drawing was shown to Henner in 1899 by the framer, Mr Galès.  Henner acknowledged it as being … his child.

 ... and a rare document 

Henner paid a lot of attention to the distribution of his work through photographs, engravings and also the media. In fact, this drawing of Saint Jerome was made for La Vie Moderne, a literary magazine at the time. These pictures were usually not kept, which is why this one is exceptional, highlighting questions about the reproduction and distribution of works of art.

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