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Antonello da Messina, Saint Jerome in his Study

Key facts
Full title Saint Jerome in his Study
Artist Antonello da Messina
Artist dates active 1456; died 1479
Date made about 1475
Medium and support Oil on lime
Dimensions 45.7 × 36.2 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1894
Inventory number NG1418
Location On loan: Masterpieces from the National Gallery, Chimei Museum, Tainan City, Taiwan
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Saint Jerome in his Study
Antonello da Messina

Born in the fourth century, Saint Jerome was a scholar and a monk. His translation of the Bible from Greek into Latin is known as the Vulgate, and it is still used by the Catholic Church today.

Antonello offers a peek into the saint’s environment through a fictive stone wall pierced by a broad archway; it’s as though we're looking into a doll’s house. Jerome is in his study at the heart of a lofty, cathedral-like space, its imposing high vaults reflecting the saint’s exalted spirituality and intellect. An array of miniature still lifes – including books, a ceramic vase and a jar – line the study’s shelves.

The artist’s skill in using oil paint enabled him to recreate the texture of these objects, whether rough or shiny, cold or warm. This technical ability, inspired by his study of Netherlandish art, was hugely influential for the artists of Venice, where Antonello made this painting.

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