Friday, September 30, 2016

Saint Jerome -- Man of Multiple Images

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Saint Jerome and the Lion
German, 1515
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum
This has to be my favorite image of Saint Jerome and the lion.  
The expression on the face of the lion is so perfect.



I had planned on doing a full length essay on Saint Jerome for today, which is his feast day. However, I've been fighting a virus most of the month of September and this has sapped my energy greatly, so I have done far less prep than usual.



My first step in preparing for a post is to collect as many images of the subject as I can.  Most of this work had been done before the virus hit, so I have decided to share some of it with you and to return at a later date to a more analytical essay.  What I will do is to share a few images of the most frequent types of iconographic images of St. Jerome.





Jerome is best known as a Biblical scholar, especially for his monumental translation of the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin.  Known as the Vulgate it was the translation that was used in Western, Latin-speaking, Europe for over a thousand years.  During the Reformation other scholars, such as Luther or the committee that produced the King James Version in England, made translations into the vernacular languages that had replaced Latin in everyday speech.  However, the Vulgate remained the standard for Catholics until recent times when it was replaced with newer translations which draw on older texts than were available to Jerome.  He was also known as a biblical commentator, as a theologian, as a hermit, as a penitent and as the focus of several charming tales.  All of these found expression in art, but some themes were more common than others.
Below I am showing a selection of these images without much commentary.  At a later date I will add more.

Biographical Images


One of the smaller groups of images of Saint Jerome are those that emphasize the real activities of his life.  In his lifetime (about 347 - 420 AD) Jerome wore many hats.  In addition to his best known endeavors of translating the Old Testament books of the Bible from Hebrew to Latin, opening them up to more successfully than before Western European to  thought and culture, but he was a priest, a papal secretary (to Pope Damasus I), spiritual adviser to prominent Roman ladies, recluse, adviser to monks and Biblical commentator.  Some works of art focus on these activities.

Scenes from Life of Saint Jerome
From the Premiere Bible of Charles the Bald called the Vivien Bible
French (Tours), 845-851
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 1, fol. 3v

Saint Jerome and Pope Damasus
From the Second Bible of Saint Martial of Limoges
French (Limoges), c. 111th-12th Century
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 8(1), fol. 4
Saints Jerome and Paulinus
From the Second Bible of SaintMartial of Limoges
French (Limoges), c. 11th-12th Century
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 8(1), fol. 2
Saint John and His Commentators
From Commentaries of the Apocalypse by Beatus of Liebano
French (Saint-Sever), Before 1072
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 8878, fol. 13v
Master of the Roman de Fauvel, Saint Jerome and Saint Malchus
From Vie de saints
French (Paris), c. 1300-1325
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 183, fol. 177v
Jeanne de Montbaston, Saint Jerome Sailing to Rome
From Vie de Saints
French (Paris), c. 1325-1350
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 185, fol. 155v
Benozzo Gozzoli, Saint Jerome Departing from Antioch
Italian, 1452
Montefalco, Church of San Francesco, Chapel of Saint Jerome
Master of the Trivial Heads, Saint Jerome visits Saint Pachomius
From Vie des Peres
Flemish, c.1490-1500
The Hague, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS KB 133 A 1, fol. 136r

Jerome as a Theologian and Scholar

Saint Jerome is often shown as scholar, working in his study.  Sometimes he is seen as a cardinal. This is anachronistic, as the position of Cardinal did not exist in his lifetime.  However, this does represent the fact that for part of his life he was an adviser, even a secretary, to more than one Pope.
The Maubeuge Master, Saint Jerome Translating the Book of Esther
From Bible historiale by Guyart des Moulins
French (Paris), c. 1320-1330
New York, Pierpont Morgan Library
MS M 322, fol. 250r


Jan Van Eyck, Saint Jerome in his Study
Flemish, 1442
Detroit, Institute of Arts
Antonio da Fabriano, Saint Jerome in his Study
Italian, 1451
Baltimore, Walters Art Museum

Antonello da Messina, Saint Jerome in his Study
Italian, c.1460
London, National Gallery

Albrecht Durer, Saint Jerome in his Study
German, 1514
Karlsruhe, Staatliche Kunsthalle

Workshop of Pieter Coecke van Aelst, Saint Jerome in His Study
Flemish, c. 1530
Baltimore, The Walters Art Museum
Coecke and his workshop were copying the figure of Saint Jerome produced by Dürer in 1521.  For Dürer's figure see the section on Saint Jerome as a Hermit below.
Marinus van Reymerswaele, Saint Jerome in His Study
Dutch, c. 1545
Berlin, Gemäldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin

Georg Pencz, Saint Jerome
German, c. 1550
Paris, Musée du Louvre


El Greco, Saint Jerome as a Scholar
Greco-Spanish, c.1610
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Robert Lehman Collection


Bartolomeo Cavarozzi, Saint Jerome in His Study with Two Angels
Italian, 1617
Florence, Palazzo Pitti
After Georges de La Tour, Saint Jerome Reading
French, c. 1650
Paris, Musée du Louvre

Jerome as a Hermit

Jerome is frequently shown as a hermit in a "desert" setting, although the desert may, at times resemble a forest or a fairyland.  Not too many European artists had ever seen a genuine desert.  For two distinct periods of his life Jerome lived in near desert areas near Antioch and later near Bethlehem.  


Workshop of Rogier van der Weyden, Saint Jerome in the Wilderness
Flemish, c. 1450-1465
Detroit, Institute of Arts



Dieric Bouts the Elder, Saint Jerome in the Wilderness
Left wing of the Martyrdom of Saint Erasmus altarpiece
Flemish, c.1458
Leuven. Sint-Pieterskerk


Giovanni Bellini, Saint Jerome Reading in the Countryside
Italian, c. 1480
London, National Gallery
Albrecht Dürer, Saint Jerome
German, 1521
Lisbon, Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga
Lucas Cranach the Elder, Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg as Saint Jerome in a Landscape
German, 1527
Berlin, Gemàldegalerie der Staatliche Museen zu Berlin


Francesco Xanto Avelli, Bowl with Saint Jerome in the Wilderness
After an engraving by Agostino Veneziano
Italian, 1531
Paris, Musée du Louvre, Department of Decorative Arts



Caravaggio, Saint Jerome
Italian, c.1606
Rome, Galleria Borghese
Anthony Van Dyck, Saint Jerome
Flemish, 1615-1616
Vienna, Liechtenstein Museum
Guido Reni, An Angel Appearing to Saint Jerome
Italian, c. 1638
Detroit, Institute of Arts

Jerome as Penitent

Saint Jerome is frequently shown as a penitent, often on his knees and even holding a rock in his hand to use when beating his breast.  This reflects Jerome's acknowledgment of how frequently he was assailed by temptations, even while in prayer.  This is a situation which many of us know all too well.  Jerome seems to have not only acknowledged it but to have punished himself severely for it. Since these temptations occurred to him when he was in the "desert" this scene is usually shown as occurring there.


Fra Angelico, Penitent Saint Jerome
Italian, c.1424
Princeton, University Art Museum


Possibly Antonio Rossellino, Saint Jerome in the Wilderness
Italian, c.1470
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Domenico Ghirlandaio, Saint Jerome
Italian, c.1471
Cercina, Church of Sant'Andrea
Leonardo da Vinci, Saint Jerome in the Wilderness
Italian, Begun by c. 1480
 (unfinished)
Vatican City State, Vatican Museums

Cima da Conegliano, The Penitent Jerome in the Wilderness
Italian, c.1495
Budapest, Szépmûvészeti Múzeum

Penitent Saint Jerome with a Donor
from Book of Hours
Dutch, c.1495
The Hague, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS 135 G 19, fol. 5r

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Penance of Saint Jerome
German, 1502
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum

Joachim Patinir, Penitence of Saint Jerome
Central Panel of Triptych
Flemish, 1512-1515
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Simon Bening, The Penitent Saint Jerome
Flemish, 1515-1520
El Escorial, Monastery of San Lorenzo
Battista Dossi, Saint Jerome in a Landscape
Italian, c. 1546
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Federico Barocci. Penitent Saint Jerome
Italian, c.1598
Rome, Galleria Borghese
Caravaggio, Saint Jerome
Italian, c.1607
Valletta, Museum of Saint John
El Greco, The Penitent Saint Jerome
Greco-Spanish, c. 1610-1614
Washington, National Gallery of Art
Pietro da Cortona, Saint Jerome in the Desert
Italian, c. 1637
Detroit, Institute of Arts
Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini, Saint Jerome
Italian, c. 1661-1663
Sienna, Duomo, Cappella Chigi

Jerome and the Lion

This is the first and most frequently seen of the charming tales associated with him.  Like Androcles, whose story may have been the model, he is reported to have removed a large thorn from the paw of a lion and gained the beast's devotion thereafter.  The lion followed Jerome and stayed by his side thereafter, like one of his smaller domestic cousins.

Some of the images depict the encounter between Jerome and the lion, some include the reaction of the monks who were his neighbors at the time.  And some simply depict the interaction between the man and the animal.


Master of the Roman de Fauvel, Saint Jerome and the Lion
from Vie de saints
French (Paris), 1300-1325
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 183, fol. 155v

Giovanni di Benedetto, Saint Jerome and the Lion
from Missal for use of the Friars Minor (Francsicans)
Italian (Milan), c.1385-1390
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de Frane
MS Latin 757, fol. 377
The Boucicaut Master, Saint Jerome Writing
From the Hours of Jeanne Bessonnelle
French (Paris), c. 1400-1425
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Latin 1161, fol. 268


Chroniques II Workshop, Saint Jerome and the Lion
From Legenda aurea of Jacobus de Voragine
Flemish (Bruges), c. 1445-1465
New York, Pierpont Library
MS M 675, fol.118r

Benozzo Gozzoli, Saint Jerome Pulling a Thorn from the Lion's Paw
Italian, 1452
Montefalco, San Francesco, Chapel of St. Jerome

Lazzaro Bastiani, Saint Jerome Bringing the Lion to the Monastery
Italian, c. 1470
Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera
Attributed to Bartolomeo Bellano, Saint Jerome and the Lion
Italian, Late 15th Century
Paris, Musée du Louvre, Department of Decorative Arts

Jacques de Besancon, Saint Jerome and the Lion
 From The Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine
French (Paris), c.1480-1490
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Francais 245, fol. 119v

Saint Jerome and the Lion
From a Book of Hours
French (Paris), c.1490-1500
Belgium, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS KB 76 F14, fol. 120r

Saint Jerome and the Lion
North Spanish (Palencia), c.1500
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Vittore Carpaccio, Saint Jerome Bringing the Lion Into the Monastery
Italian, 1502
Venice, Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni

© M. Duffy, 2016, additional images added 2019