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After Jacob de Gheyn III, Saint Paul seated reading

Key facts
Full title Saint Paul seated reading
Artist After Jacob de Gheyn III
Artist dates about 1596 - 1641
Date made about 1620
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 120.2 × 96.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1921
Inventory number NG3590
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Saint Paul seated reading
After Jacob de Gheyn III

Jacob de Gheyn III learned painting and engraving from his father, Jacob de Gheyn II. It’s unclear if this painting is a copy after de Gheyn III’s etching of the same subject, or if the painting was made first. A preparatory drawing (Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest) depicts Paul in reverse.

In both etching and drawing, the foreground extends further than in the painting, and the tip of the sword protrudes over a ledge. The engraved Saint Paul is a companion piece to an engraving of Saint Peter: the two apostles face each other. In both painting and print, Paul’s attributes are a book – the bespectacled saint is reading what is likely to be the Gospel of Christ – and a sword, symbolising his martyrdom.

Jacob de Gheyn III was not as prolific as his father. He became a collector and had his portrait painted by the young Rembrandt (Dulwich Picture Gallery, London), whose paintings he owned.

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