Giuseppe Bernardino Bison
Palmanova 1762-1844 Milan
Saint Jerome and the Lion

Red chalk, pen and brown ink, brown wash

200 x 180 mm. (8 x 7 in.)

Bison, who was a painter, scenographer and draughtsman, was trained in Venice under Anton Maria Zanetti and Constantino Cedini, a follower of Tiepolo. Bison is known to have worked as a set designer for two theaters in Ferrara in 1787, and in 1815 he moved to Milan where he remained for the rest of his life.

Bison is an artist who spans two periods in Italian art. Although he lived through the first half of the nineteenth century, his style is essentially that of eighteenth. His charming and evocative lyricism reminds us more of Rosa, and his brilliant use of wash to create dramatic effects against the starkness of the white paper is closer stylistically to Tiepolo and the late eighteenth century Venetian artists. He is an artist who looks backwards in time rather than forward, and yet he is not unaware of the work of Goya and Delacroix. This beautiful drawing shows his working method well.

Note for example, how the lion has been moved two times before coming to rest by the Saint, and how skillfully Bison has covered up these pentimenti without disturbing the drawings composition. There are two other less finished drawings of this subject by Bison, but there is no known painting of St. Jerome and the Lion. Our drawing is a characteristic example by the artist and is comparable to other published drawings1.

1.Aldo Rizzi, Disegni del Bison, Bologna, 1976, figs. 91& 114.