In the 1648, Rembrandt made another etching St Jerome at work, this time in a landscape dominated by a pollarded willow. Bespectacled and busily writing, the saint appears to have been transported here from his household study, his makeshift desk nailed to a tree, with Rembrandt depicting the best of both worlds: the absorption of the scholar and the beauty and tranquillity of nature. Signed and dated in its second state, this striking print is clearly finished but looks incomplete in its stylistic disparities and sheer informality.
The background rocks and waterfall are barely delineated, the saint and his lion more fully so, and the tree itself meticulously described. Whatever may have been Rembrandt's reasons for leaving it this way, he obviously felt it was right and could not have better encapsulated the creative process itself as it moves from inception to fruition, bare idea to tangible form.