Salvator Rosa (Italian, Neapolitan, 16151673)
Etching and drypoint; Overall 13 7/16 x 11 5/16 in. (34.2 x 28.8 cm)
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1917 (18.104.22.168)
St. William, a particularly immoral soldier who later took up a monastic life, is depicted here doing penitence in a forested valley in a region of Siena known as Maleval. Rosa presents St. William as a solitary penitent figure tensely situated in an uncomfortable pose and quietly contemplating a cross. The loneliness of the figure is augmented by the jagged style in which the forest is rendered, especially through the extreme gradations of shading. The theme of the contemplative penitent is common in works by Rosa as also seen in the Metropolitan's Self-Portrait (21.105) where the artist represents himself as a scholarly penitent.