Saint Jerome in Penitence

c. 1480–1500
Image: 15.1 x 21.6 cm (5 15/16 x 8 1/2 in.); Sheet: 15.1 x 21.6 cm (5 15/16 x 8 1/2 in.)
Location: not on view
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Did You Know?

The rock in Saint Jerome's hand was used by the saint to beat his chest when he experienced hallucinations brought on by his isolation in the desert.


In this inhospitable landscape, Saint Jerome appears strong and sure, praying toward a crucifix and holding a rock to beat his chest. Jerome retreated to the desert near Antioch (present-day Turkey) for four years to purify his soul through physical suffering. The cardinal’s hat and book refer to his later work translating the Bible into Latin, and the lion was his companion after he pulled a thorn from its paw. A tree holding a crucifix with a skull at its base refers to Christ’s cross and to Eden. The man at left may be a traveling friar begging for sustenance.
Saint Jerome in Penitence

Saint Jerome in Penitence

c. 1480–1500

Italy, Florence or Northern Italy, 15th century

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