The iconography of this very beautiful marble depicting a man dressed in a cloth, studying a book and accompanied by a lion tells us that we are in the presence of Saint Jerome. Jérôme de Stridon (347-420 AD) is the patron saint of doctors, students, archaeologists, pilgrims, librarians, translators and booksellers.
His image is very present in art, from the Middle Ages to the contemporary era. It is particularly so in post-Tridentine Catholicism (mid-16th and 17th centuries).
Her clothing reminds us of her status as an anchorite who, withdrawn from the world, lives a contemplative and solitary faith in the desert. The book reminds him of the fundamental role of Jerome as a translator of the Gospels into Latin, making him one of the four Fathers of the Latin Church. The lion evokes one of the legends that accompany the life of the Saint. Jerome of Stridon would have met a lion wounded by a thorn in the paw, and this lion (symbol of the desert) would have let Jerome treat it. The legend goes on to say that the lion would have become Jerome's pet.
The composition of the work is very marked by the art of Michelangelo. The artist is influenced here by the compositions of the great Florentine genius and particularly by the Twilight of the Sacristy of San Lorenzo, which adorns the famous tombs of the Medici, the position is almost identical. The musculature and the contortions of the body here show the influence of the sculptures of the master and the model that they were for the artistic movement then in vogue in Europe, Mannerism. The abundant beard is reminiscent of that of the Moses kept at Saint Pierre aux Liens in Rome.
This sculpture can be compared both by the typology of the sculpture and by the particular treatment of the surfaces to the work of Giovanni Bonazza.
Indeed, the sculptures of Givonni Bonazza include a series of small marbles on different subjects whose representation of the characters is very generally elongated.
These include a reclining nymph at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas)