Offered by Don Verboven - Exquisite Objects
Exquisite Objects & Medieval works of Art
A painting of Saint Jerome at work in his study – end of the 17th Century – oil on a wooden panel – Probably Flanders
Provenance: collection Senelle – Belgium
Saint Jerome (342-420) was born around 347 in Stridon, in the region of Dalmatia and Pannonia. He died in Bethlehem in 420. He converted to Christianity and undertook a journey to the Holy Land around 373. He led the life of a hermit for three years in the desert of Chalcis in Syria. In 382, after this pilgrimage, he was called to Rome by Pope Damasus I to translate the Bible. His version, in Latin translated from Greek and Hebrew, is called the Vulgate and is officially recognised by the Catholic Church. Since Boniface VII in 1298, Jerome has also been considered one of the Fathers of the Church, a saint and a Doctor of the Church.
The subject of Saint Jerome is part of a long iconographic tradition and appears frequently after the fourteenth century. His life was well-known from the Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine (1261-1266). According to the Golden Legend, Saint Jerome was ordained cardinal at the age of twenty-nine. After four years of penitence in the desert, he dedicated forty- five years to translating the Scriptures, culminating in the Vulgate. He can be shown in three ways: the intellectual at work in his study (type 1), the penitent half-clothed kneeling before a crucifix in the desert (type 2) and the Doctor of the Church, sometimes carrying the model of the religious edifice (type 3). In these three types of representation, he is often wearing the habit and galero of a cardinal and shown with a lion.
This painting (type 1) shows all the traditional symbols: the clock, the reading desk, the candle, the red coat, the corpus, the view of the landscape… Remarkable is the small painting on the wall with a scene from hell.