Jacques des Rousseaux - THE APOSTLE PAUL
Jacques des Rousseaux
THE APOSTLE PAUL
Oil on canvas (relined). 90.5 x 70 cm.
JR (ligatured) Ao 1636.
Little of Jacques des Rousseaux's life has been recorded, but it is known that he had a short artistic career in Leiden and was influenced by the work of Rembrandt and Jan Lievens. He was presumably born around 1600 in Flanders, travelled to Italy and moved to Leiden thereafter. He died early, in 1638, and his oeuvre contains little more than one and a half dozen works (Sumowski 1983, p. 2501 - 2508). These mainly depict single figures, some portraits, old men and women, saints and one self-portrait of the artist in a fantasy costume.
The present work shows Saint Paul wearing glasses and leaning his sword against his right shoulder. His right hand turns the pages of a book, and with his left he fingers his long white beard. He is shown thoroughly engrossed in the reading of the Holy Scriptures which lay open before him. A bright ray of light from the left illuminates the saint's head and the book, and the shadow cast by his robed body defines the space within the image.
Jacques des Rousseaux painted Saint Paul at least three times in various poses, sometimes reading, sometimes meditating. Whilst these depictions of the saint were conceived as half-figure works, most of his other pieces are busts. They have often been attributed to Jan Lievens, and one work has since been attributed to Rembrandt. This shows the influence that both artists must have had on Jacques des Rousseaux, thus it has also been postulated that he was taught either by Rembrandt or Lievens. Their influence, also evident in this painting, becomes clear in the physiognomies and the use of single-figure depictions. This type dates back to the "Tronies", studies of heads created by the circle of Peter Paul Rubens, made popular by Rembrandt and Lievens and which became an independent genre in Leiden.
578th Lempertz Auction, Cologne, 12.-14.6.1980, lot 226.
The Rau Collection for UNICEF
Walther Bernt: Die Niederländischen Maler und Zeichner des 17. Jahrhunderts. 4. ed. Munich 1980, vol. 3., illus. 1051. - Werner Sumowski: Gemälde der Rembrandt-Schüler. Landau 1983, vol. 4, no. 1688, illus.