The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of April 22, 2018

Saint Jerome and the Lion (From the former Church of St. Peter in Erfurt), c. 1495

alabaster, Overall: 37.8 x 28.1 x 15.9 cm (14 7/8 x 11 1/16 x 6 1/4 in.). Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1946.82

Said to have come from the Benedictine abbey church of Saint Peter in Erfurt, Germany, this statue depicts the church father, Saint Jerome, as he removes a thorn from the paw of a lion, a legendary account of the saint’s kindness. Following the common iconography of the scene, Jerome is dressed in the traditional robes of a Roman cardinal, with the cowl draped over his tonsured head and the broadbrimmed hat on his right leg. Traces of polychromy and gilding suggest that it was once brightly colored. Drill holes in the hat further indicate that cords and tassels of fabric, typical of a cardinal’s hat, would once have decorated the sculpture. Whether the statue was originally commissioned for an altar in a private chapel or for its artistic value remains unknown. Its alleged provenance from a church in Erfurt and Jerome’s popularity as a patron saint of humanists and scholars make either scenario likely. Riemenschneider’s Saint Jerome is not only one of the artist’s more important early sculptures, it is also his only work in alabaster in a collection in the U.S.

Mainz: "Ausstellung für christliche Kunst" 1892.
Frankfurt-am-Main: "Meisterwerke der Bilhauerkunst in Frankfurter Privatbesitz, Deutsche und Franzosische Okastik des Mittelalters" 1921, no. 143.
Hannover: "Riemenschneider Gedächtnis-Ausstellung 1931 des Museum für Kunst und Landesgeschichte im Provinzial", 1931, cat. no. 10a, p. 16.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts: "Masterpieces of Sculpture" November 1-December 11, 1949, cat. no. 25, p. 158, repr. p. 153.
Oberlin, Dudley P. Allen Memorial Art Museum: "Classical, Medieval, Renaissance and Modern Sculpture" January 6-31, 1950.
North Carolina Museum, "Sculptures of Tilman Riemenschneider" October 6 - November 11, 1962: cat. no. III, repr. p. 27, 28, 29.
Wurzburg, West Germany, Mainfrankisches Museum Wurzburg, "Tilman Riemenschneider" September 1-November 1, 1981, cat. no. 57, p. 263-266, repr.
Cleveland Museum of Art, "Object Lessons: Cleveland Creates an Art Museum" June 7-September 8, 1991.
National Gallery; Metropolitan Museum of Art: "Tilman Riemenschneider: Master Sculptor of the Late Middle Ages" 1999, cat. no. 11.
Bavarian Nationalmuseum, Munich (5/10/2007 - 9/16/2007), the J. Paul Getty Musuem, Los Angeles (10/30/2007 - 1/20/2008) and Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN (2/13/2009 - 6/7/2009): "Sacred Gifts and Worldly Treasures: Medieval Masterworks from the Cleveland Museum of Art"
Musea Brugge (organizer). Groeningemuseum, Brugge, Belgium (10/28/2010 - 1/30/2011): "From Van Eyck to Dürer: Artistic Exchanges between the Netherlands and Central, Eastern and Northern Europe c.1420-1530", ex. cat. no. 229, p. 415.

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