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St Jerome

Here is my study of this work.

And this is what the original looks like.

I am amazed at just how popular Caravaggio has become over the last few years. It was only ten or fifteen years ago that he was pretty much an unknown entity to most people, myself included. My first encounter with Caravaggio was on a trip to Melbourne where a street artist was doing a version of "St Paul on the road to Damascus" in pastel on the sidewalk. This experience started a fascination with the artist that cumulated with a visit to the original "St Paul" hanging in the church of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome in early 2001 (for more info read my essay on Caravaggio). This remains my favorite Caravaggio painting and a definite contender for a future study.

This painting was a simple experiment in layering techniques to develop realistic skin tones. This technique is outlined in a book by Sam Sheppard entitled "How to paint like the old masters". 

I decided to render the original tonal layer  in black and white rather than burnt umber which is more traditional for the Italian baroque period artists. The hair and the beard in the finished painting remain as evidence of this original layer. In retrospect this was a mistake, as applying subsequent layers did not achieve the proper tonal effect due to the strength of the black in the underpainting.

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