St. Jerome Penitent in the Wilderness

Albrecht Dürer
St. Jerome Penitent in the Wilderness
engraving
1496

An original Albrecht Dürer engraving.

1496

Original engraving printed in black ink on laid paper bearing the “Imperial Orb” watermark (Meder 53).

Signed in the plate with the artist’s monogram lower center.

A superb, black, richly printed 16th century/lifetime Meder “a” (of “g”) impression, Campbell Dodgson and Hollstein’s first state of two, printed prior to the addition of the short parallel horizontal lines of shading being added to the lower left sheet tip, with excellent contrasts throughout, showing a few faint wiping marks in the sky.

Catalog: Bartsch 61; Dodgson 11 i/ii; Meder 57.a; Panofsky 168; Hollstein 57 i/ii; Strauss 8; Schoch/Mende/Scherbaum 6.

At the beginning of his career as a printmaker, Dürer’s means of distribution were limited and his audience small. Accordingly, his very first engravings created between 1495 and 1500, were initially printed in relatively small editions. Early impressions are hence very rare and the majority of impressions we see today were printed years, if not a decade or two, later as the paper evidence suggests.

This is certainly true for “Saint Jerome in Penitence,” of which Meder “a” impressions hardly ever come to the market. Based on observations of a very early impression of “Saint Jerome in Penitence,” Campbell Dodgson in 1933 even argued for the existence of a first state, previously unrecorded by Bartsch and Meder. He found that a number of small lines of shading at the lower left sheet tip were missing in the impression he had seen. The example described above, with a watermark indicative of an early Meder “a” impression, also appears to lack those lines, making it an extremely rare impression of Dodgson’s first state.