Master Works on Paper from Five Centuries

Master Works on Paper from Five Centuries

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 4. Saint Jerome.

Giovanni Battista Castello

Saint Jerome

Auction Closed

July 3, 10:51 AM GMT


5,000 - 7,000 GBP

Lot Details


Giovanni Battista Castello

(Genoa 1547 - 1639)

Saint Jerome

Gouache on vellum, heightened with gold

148 by 119 mm

Private collection, acquired in Spain in about 2010 by the present owner

E. de Laurentis, 'Il pio Geonvese: Giovanni Battista Castello', Alumina, April-June 2012, p. 29, reproduced

Elena De Laurentis, in her article on Castello (see Literature) singles out this highly skillful and jewel-like depiction of St. Jerome, observing its high quality and commenting on its likely provenance from the Escorial, suggested by the Saint portrayed, who was the titular saint of the order of monks entrusted with the management of the monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.1

Sensitively rendered in gouache, complementing the pious nature of the subject matter, this refined miniature was most probably commissioned for private devotion. The artist has, with harmonious choices of colour, heightened with subtle touches of gold, created both a reverent and sophisticated work of art.

Giovanni Battista Castello trained in the studio of the Genoese artist, Luca Cambiaso, after spending a period of time working alongside his father, Antonio, who was a goldsmith. The artist adopted the trade of goldsmith in his formative years and only began working as an illuminator and miniaturist in his thirties; his apprenticeship as a goldsmith is abundantly evident throughout his art. Castello became an acclaimed miniaturist during his lifetime and his works reveal the influence of Giulio Clovio (1498-1578). His gouaches, mostly on vellum, like the present example, were much revered and admired. His abilities in this genre sparked the interest of Philip II, who summoned the artist to Spain to work on the illumination of choir books for the Royal monastery of El Escorial.

  1.   E. de Laurentis, op.cit., p. 29