Friday, September 30, 2016

Saint Jerome -- Man of Multiple Images

Scenes from Life of St. 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
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.

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.

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

Antonello da Messina, St. Jerome in his Study
Italian, c.1460
London, National Gallery
Albrecht Durer, St. Jerome in his Study
German, 1514
Karlsruhe, Staatliche Kunsthalle
Bartolomeo Cavarozzi, Saint Jerome in His Study with Two Angels
Italian, 1617
Florence, Palazzo Pitti

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.  

Dieric Bouts the Elder, St. Jerome
Left wing of the
Martyrdom of St. Erasmus altarpiece
Flemish, c.1458
Leuven. Sint-Pieterskerk
Giovanni Bellini, St. Jerome Reading in the Countryside
Italian, c. 1480
Florence, Galleria degli'Uffizi

Lucas Cranach the Elder, Cardinal Albrecht
of Brandenburg as St.Jerome in a Landscape
German, 1527
Berlin, Staatliche Museen
Anthony Van Dyck, St. Jerome
Flemish, 1615-1616
Vienna, Liechtenstein Museum

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 St Jerome
Italian, c.1424
Princeton, University Art Museum
Possibly Antonio Rossellino_St. Jerome in the Wilderness
Italian, c.1470
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Domenico Ghirlandaio, St. Jerome
Italian, c.1471
Cercina, Church of Sant'Andrea
Penitent St. Jerome with a Donor
from Book of Hours
Dutch, c.1495
The Hague, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS 135 G 19, fol. 5r

Joachim Patinir, Penitence of St. Jerome
Central Panel of Triptych
Flemish, 1512-1515
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Federico Barocci. Penitent St. Jerome
Italian, c.1598
Rome, Galeria Borghese

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.

Maître du Roman de Fauvel, St. 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, St.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
Benozzo Gozzoli, St. Jerome Pulling a Thorn from the Lion's Paw
Italian, 1452
Montefalco, San Francesco, Chapel of St. Jerome

Jacques de Besancon, St. 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

Lazzaro Bastiani, St. Jerome Bringing the Lion to the Convent
Italian, c. 1470
Milan, Pinacoteca di Brera

© M. Duffy, 2016  

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