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The subject of this painting derives from depictions of hermit saints such as Jerome and Anthony who retreated to the wilderness to lead lives of penance and prayer. In this work, a pious monk kneels before a crucifix outside his crude shelter in the hollow of a blasted tree.
The desolate landscape, with its jagged rocks, fires, shipwrecks, and ruined buildings, is symbolic of the sinful world. This type of infernal landscape owes a great deal to the works of Hieronymus Bosch and was probably painted by one of his best known imitators, Jan Wellens de Cocq.
Provenance research is on-going at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Please contact Annette Schlagenhauff, Curator of Special Projects, at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.