A Hermit Praying

Object type
30,0 x 22,8 cm
Acquisition date
The Palace on the Isle - Hallway, 1st floor
Marks and inscriptions
signed and dated Q. vB. 1653, on left traces of the red number of the Stanisław August collection, bottom left (abrased)
Place of Origin
Netherlands (Europe)
The Royal Łazienki
Museum number
ŁKr 820
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In the catalogues of the Stanisław August collection, the painting was listed as the work of Brekelenkam. ...

Brekelenkam specialized in genre paintings: mainly rustic scenes showing the interiors of peasants’ homes, kitchens and inns in which numerous, meticulously-rendered utensils and other objects sometimes created almost separate still lifes within the interior of the paintings.

The unique religious paintings in Brekelenkam’s oeuvre were scenes showing hermits, also treated in a ‘genre-like’ manner. ... They all show a sitting or kneeling old man, full-length, in a cave filled with many accessories, such as books, pilgrim bottles, skulls, baskets, a crucifix, rosary and torches hanging from the dried-out trunks of trees.

The Łazienki painting differs from them significantly: the figure is in the close foreground, shown knee length, against a completely neutral, empty background. It is closer in composition to Gerard Dou’s Hermit with a Rosary, dating from c. 1635–40, in the Rijksmuseum (inv. no. A 88)—a composition, which in Lasius’ opinion, inspired Brekelenkam’s paintings of this subject.

The face of the old man in the Łazienki painting–shown in ¾ view, from above–is reminiscent of the physiognomies of several of Brekelenkam’s hermits from the 1650s ... . [See D. Juszczak, H. Małachowicz, The Stanisław August Collection of Paintings at the Royal Łazienki. Catalogue, Royal Łazienki Museum, Warsaw 2016, no. 24, p. 119.]

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