This painting belongs to the late years of the artist's life. At that time Reni had abandoned the smooth finish that had been characteristic of his earlier work in favor of a slightly looser and more animated surface. The abstract elegance of his previous canvases gives way to works that are perhaps less "perfect" but emotionally richer. In this work, the spiritual encounter between Saint Jerome and the angel is expressed by a brilliant colorism and an array of gestures that are theatrical without being melodramatic.
Artist Guido Reni, Italian, 1575-1642
  • The Angel Appearing to St. Jerome
Date ca. 1638
Medium oil on canvas
Dimensions Unframed: 78 5/8 × 58 1/4 inches (199.7 × 147.9 cm)
Framed: 91 1/4 × 71 × 4 1/2 inches (231.8 × 180.3 × 11.4 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Ralph Harman Booth Bequest Fund, Henry Ford II Fund, Benson and Edith Ford Fund and New Endowment Fund
Accession Number 69.6
Department European Painting
On View European: Medieval and Renaissance W220, Level 2 (see map)
by May 12, 1804, Jacomo Balbi (Palazzo Balbi, Genoa, Italy);
1804, Andrew Wilson (England);
May 6, 1807, purchased by Walsh Porter, Esq. [for 766 pounds, 10 shillings];
April 14, 1810, sold (possibly London, England) W. Porter Esq. auction, lot 39 or 40;
1810, purchased by Goddard [for £640.10];
Edmund Higginson (Saltmarshe, Herefordshire, England);
June 4, 1846, sold (Saltmarshe, Herefordshire, England) Edmund Higginson auction, lot 181;
1846, purchased by 2nd Lord Northwick (Thirlestane House, Cheltentham, England) [for 260 guineas];
1859, sold (Thirlestane House, Cheltentham, England) 2nd Lord Northwick auction, lot 539;
1859, purchased by George, 3rd Lord Northwick (Northwick Park, England) [for 350 guineas];
by descent to Captain E.G. Spencer-Churchill, M.C. (Northwick Park, England);
May 28, 1956, sold by (Christie's, London, England) Spencer-Churchill auction, lot 35;
(Julius Weitzner, London, England);
1969, (Hallsborough Gallery, London, England);
1969-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Malvasia, C.C. Felsina pittrice. Bologna, 1678, vol. 2, p. 91.

Cochin, C.-N., Voyage d'Italie. Paris, 1758, vol. 3, pp. 278, no. 1, 281.

Brusco, G.-G's., Gravier, Y. Description des Beautés de Gênes et de ses environs. Genoa, 1768, p. 53; 1773, p. 87; 1777, p. 87; 1788 ed., p. 134; 1792 ed., p. 136; 1906, no. 474.

Ratti, C.G. Istruzione di quanto può vedersi di più bello in Genova in pittura, scultura, ed architettura. Genoa, 1766, p. 169; 1780 ed., vol. 2, p. 189.

Oretti, M. Notizie de'professori del disegno coiè pittori, scultori ed architetti bolognesi, late 18th century, Ms. B.126, Biblioteca Comunale. Bologna, vol. 4, c. 260.

Buchanan, W. Memoirs of Painting. London, 1824, vol. 2, pp. 151, 201.

Malvasia, C.C. Felsina pittrice. Bologna, 1678, vol. 2, p. 91 (1841 ed., vol. 2, p. 65).

Waagen, G. Treasures of Art in Great Britain. London, 1854, vol. 3, p. 200. [incorrectly identified as St. Matthew with the Angel.]

Catalogue of the late Lord Northwick’s Extensive and Magnificent Collection of Ancient and Modern Thirlestane House, Cheltentham. London, 1859, lot 539.

Graves, A. Art Sales from Early in the Eighteenth Century to Early in the Twentieth Century. London, 1918, vol. 1, pp. 389, 391.

Borenius, T. A Catalogue of the Collection Of Pictures at Northwick Park, 2nd ed. London, 1921, p. 22, no. 40, no. 474.

Northwick Park Collection: Important Pictures by Old Masters c. 1400-c.1600. Sales cat., Christie's. London, 1965, 41, lot 35.

Pepper, D. Stephen. "The Angel Appearing to St. Jerome by Guido Reni, a new acquisition." Bulletin of the DIA 48, no. 2 (1969): pp. 26-35, 28-35 (cover ill.).

Detroit News, November 23, 1969, p. 2E (ill.).

Garboli, C. and E. Baccheschi. L'opera completa di Guido Reni. Milan, 1971, p. 110, (ill.) p. 112, cat. 189b.

Cummings, F. and C. Elam. Detroit Institute of Arts Illustrated Handbook. Detroit, 1971, p. 97. [as St. Jerome and the Angel.]

Cochin, C.-N. Voyage d'Italie. Geneva, 1972, p. 189.

Lavin, I. "Divine Inspiration in Caravaggio's Two St. Matthews." Art Bulletin 56 (1974): pp. 59-81, p. 81, no. 79.

Sobral, Luis de M. "Etude d'un dessin du Guerchin." Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Quarterly 6, no. 2 (Autumn 1974): p. 11, no. 7.

Register Of Museum Of The Museum Of Art. Exh. cat., University of Kansas. Lawrence, 1976, vol. 5, no. 3, 1976, p. 62 (ill.).

Pepper, Stephen D. "A new late work by Guido Reni for Edinburgh and his late manner re-evaluated." Burlington Magazine 121, no. 916 (July 1979): pp. 418-424, p. 424.

Cummings, Frederick J., ed. Selected Works from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1979, p. 144, no. 117 (ill.).

Pepper, Stephen D. Guido Reni A Complete Catalogue of his Works. Oxford, 1984, pp. 32-33, 42, 290, cat. 202, pl. 238, pl. XV.

100 Masterworks from the Detroit Institute of Arts. New York, 1985, p. 106, p. 107 (ill.).

Guido Reni 1575-1642. Exh. cat., Pinacoteca Nazionale, et al. Bologna, 1988, pp. 316-317, cat. 63, p. 318, cat. 64; p. 178, cat. 76 (ill.).

Spear, R. "Guercino's 'prix fixe': observations on studio practices and art marketing in Emilia." Burlington Magazine (September 1994) vol. 136, no. 1098, pp. 592-602, p. 599, notes 42-44 (fig. 11) cover.

Mahon, D. and D.S. Pepper. "Guercino and Reni: Reflections on the Interpretation of Documents and Paintings." The Burlington Magazine 129 (1997): pp. 178-187.

Bissell, R.W., A. Derstine, and D. Miller. Masters of Italian Baroque Painting: The Detroit Institute of Arts. London, 2005, pp. 10, 11 (note 14), 156-159, cat. no. 51.

Fernádez-Santos Ortiz-Iribas, J. "The inventory of Pietro Mellini's collection at the Palazzo del Rosario in 1680." Burlington Magazine 150, no. 1265 (August 2008): pp. 517. [as by Guido Reni, School of Guido Reni.]

Derstine, Andria. "The Detroit Institute of Arts and Italian Baroque Painting." In Buying Baroque: Italian Seventeenth-Century Paintings Come to America, ed. Edgar Peters Bowron. University Park, 2017, p. 99.