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Canvas size: 13.75" x 11"
Frame size: 18.25" x 15.25"

In this painting, Jerome, circa 342 – 419 AD, is seated in his study, surrounded by items that symbolize his important position in the Catholic Church. One of the four 'Fathers' of the early Roman Church, Jerome was exceptionally learned and perhaps the greatest of the Church Doctors. His translation and revision of the Latin New Testament and his version of the Old Testament, the Vulgate, became the standard text of the Bible in Western Europe. By placing Jerome in a study setting, the artist was following the established convention portraying Jerome as the archetypal scholar. The various objects placed in proximity to Jerome were common symbols, each with recognizable significance. The skull represents the seat of thought, and also symbolized spiritual perfection. Death of the physical body (symbolized by the skull) enabled one to be reborn at a higher level at which the spirit could rule. The candle was commonly included in works of art as a manifestation of spiritual illumination. The light from the candle alludes to the light of God. Perhaps the most appropriate symbol for Jerome is that of the book which lies open on the table. Symbolizing knowledge and wisdom, the two traits for which Jerome was most admired, the fact that the book lies open indicates that the mysteries of the universe could be understood by Jerome. Interestingly enough, an open book also indicated the exposure of thoughts and feelings, and Jerome was known to be quite outspoken about his religious beliefs and opinions. Jerome's cardinal's hat, one of his most common attributes, sits atop the table as a reminder of his high rank within the church.

This painting is unsigned and no attribution has been determined. For comparison, I have shown other, similar paintings of St. Jerome from the same time period.

Condition: Painting appears to be all original. Chips to paint, and canvas is not tight (wavy) in the middle. Modern frame.

Netherlandish oil on canvas, St. Jerome, 16th century (J02)

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