View Full Version : Copying: Caravaggio's Saint Jerome writing

04-08-2010, 11:03 AM
Hy everybody:wave:
I like Caravaggio works very much and decided to copy one of his paintings.
This is a photo of original: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Jerome_Writing

I do a copy like this for the first time and worry I may miss some important details/steps. I'll appreciate your advices and comments. Thank you.

Oil on stretched canvas 18"x24"


What do you think, should I work more on this grisalle or it is ready to apply colors?

04-08-2010, 01:24 PM
Nice done.

But if you want to copy as much as possible, I notice two important things:
If I compare yours with the original, I see that he did an imprimatura first. This is most visible in the background and what give the backround and shadows in the drapery that nice depth. After the imprimatura I think he laid in the dark areas, with darks colours only. No white. This include the shadows in the drapery. Yours have white in it.
After the colours are applied , whith much more paint in the light areas

This is what i learned in a workshop, from a teacher that was trained at the russian academy.

If you want the old master style. Start with an imprimatura. The shadows shall always be applied lightly with a thin layer and they never shall have white in them. You can achieve different shadow values depending with different amount of paint and medium. Colours are applied on top layers with light areas loaded with paint.

I think this method can be used to copy this painting more accurately.

04-08-2010, 01:59 PM
Thank you very much, Keya. I really appreciate your feedback. I'll try to follow the rules at least my next steps in this painting and the next one will do completely by the rules. Thanks again:music:

04-17-2010, 03:12 PM
Your'e off to a good start. By the way, two weeks ago I saw the original painting in Galleria Borghese, and I was surprised at how fresh this particular painting looks. It is either exceptionally well-preserved or beautifully restored. It looked like it was painted yesterday!

I searched the web a bit, and I think this photo comes closer than most other photographs I have seen:

04-21-2010, 12:27 AM
Thank you, Trond. That's why I like this painting so much - it has something...

Here is my update, I had a problem with a skin, had to redo it. And I use burnt umber in shadows, it gave that contrast. still a long way to go.
Btw, bought this book, very well written with detailed techniques and pics: http://www.amazon.com/How-Paint-Like-Old-Masters/dp/082302671X

c&c are welcome


04-21-2010, 02:35 AM
Hello vlad coming along nicely . I too have this book by Joseph shepheard And think it is very good. I have also found quite a few books from second hand / charity shops and have gained a lot of information on the old masters .

04-25-2010, 10:10 AM
Vlad it is coming along...I have a suggestion or which is to watch the drawing of the folds and the color. I have uploaded this image and I'm not seeing the violet that is in yours. Keep striving and BTW I have two books by Sheppard on oil painting. He is a modern master.

04-25-2010, 09:56 PM
Thank you, Tim. See, I started differently, and know have to fix all the diffreneces.

Keron, yes, I agree with you. I gave myself a little freedom in color and have to get back:o This is my first time, so need to be patient and follow the master:D Thank you for support:music:

04-26-2010, 10:19 AM
Great work Vlad, I've always liked this painting. I can't wait to see how yours turns out.


04-29-2010, 06:48 PM
Vlad, I am planning on starting a master copy too. The thing is how to find a good image to copy from! Where did you get the image/photograph? That info would be of great help!

04-29-2010, 08:36 PM
By the way, you can zoom in on this painting here:

There are also several nice ones by Rembrandt on that site.

05-11-2010, 06:10 PM
Pam, I'll try to do my best here, although I realize I started it differently of the way it supposed to be... I like this painting very much, too...
I wish I bought that book earlier, because now i have to fix all the stuff around:( .
papaib, the best I found is on wiki, but on a printout it looks too contrasted and looses colors :(

trond, thanks for reference

05-19-2010, 07:00 PM
HI Vlad :wave: , great work
Copying Caravaggio is something I aspire to do someday. I have been putting it off as have always worked with acrylic. However I have just discovered the wonder of oils so maybe I may get around to it soon.
I have recently purchased a Taschen book on Caravaggio and in it there are folded pages that open out to allow you to se the detail up close. It is a very large book that is I'm guessing about 2feet x 1ft.
In it st Jerome writing is one of those that have been enlarged. It was expensive however, it cost me €120.
I will certaily be using it for reference when I get around to that painting.
Trond that webpage is really interesting, thanks for sharing that.
I cant wait to see your finished work Vlad.
Ellen x x

05-22-2010, 06:58 PM
Hi Vlad, stumbled on your thread and found it interesting as I chose this exact painting to study back in 2007. I'll post the images of the work in progress, at least to where I got (I ran out of patience applying layer after layer of glazes :lol: ) Anywho, hope this helps.

The original Master of the month thread is here http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=458737




05-25-2010, 05:04 PM
Hi Ellen. It's good you have that book, because there are not many details on Wiki photo reference I use, and it's hard to do a guesswork. I just came back from vacation so will continue soon. Thank you for encouragement.

Hi Mike, very nice work, hopefully I'll come to that point when I can call it finished.:lol:

01-02-2011, 11:09 AM
Finally finished it on December 31 last year :clap:

I realize now I started it wrong, otherwise it wouldn't took me so much time on decision making:o

All comments are very welcome. Thank you and happy New Year


01-03-2011, 11:43 PM
You really got the drapery! Lovely work. Thank you so much for sharing.

01-12-2011, 05:39 PM
hi valdk i love to see how pictures come together and this one is comming along nicely love to see the finished picture from paula

01-15-2011, 09:19 AM
Thank you Sarastar and Paula.

Sarastar, nice website you have there:music:

02-18-2011, 01:11 PM
It's nice to see more artists loving Caravaggio. I can see you enjoyed painting it :) congrats.

02-22-2011, 11:39 PM
thank you euge

02-23-2011, 07:41 AM
Hi, again, I love Caravaggio's paintings too, and the copy I am doing is the adoration of the shepherds (1609) - If you are curious, here: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=901582

Currently I am not very happy with the size I chose (1/16 of the original) because it doesn't give the freedom of painting with big strokes. Your copy, I realized, is similar in size to mine, and it looks to me like you were very comfortable to paint small details, so, I hope you remember certain details about your technique here. I am wondering if you would remember what kind of brushes did you use to paint it. Thank you in advance,

02-27-2011, 12:22 AM
Hi Euge, yes I remember, I used the small #1 and #0 Utrecht sable brushes for details. For larger areas I used the bristle brushes, then for blending I used the larger sable brushes and some acrylic brushes.

I agree with you, the larger the canvas the easier to do details, in case of smaller canvas I just simplify the details.

Hope this will help.

02-27-2011, 10:02 AM
Thank you VladK for this, it helps a lot. :)

Sunu Tri
03-28-2011, 11:23 PM
Very good work!! :)

08-10-2011, 08:26 AM
It's very nice! I would however suggest greater contrast between light and shadow, it heightens the drama. I was in Madrid two weeks ago and saw a couple of Caravaggios and it struck me how his characters seem to jump out from a black background at you!

09-30-2011, 09:44 AM
I don't know if this thread is still active but I want to comment on how beautifully Vlad is doing on this study of Caravagio's St. Jerome writing. Can someone give me the interpretation of the skull in the original? Thank you!

Vlad, I visited your site and find your bio very interesting. I hope you are still painting!

09-30-2011, 04:54 PM
Thank you Sunu Tri, DiegoWannabe and oilsnjade.

DiegoWannabe, I like Caravaggio for the same reason, I saw his works in many museums and they stand out.

oilsnjade, yes I still do, but not much lately - was very busy at my job. Still have alot of plans and ideas:wink2: