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Scenes from the Life of Saint Jerome: Predella
Francesco Botticini
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Francesco Botticini’s S. Gerolamo Altarpiece is named after Saint Jerome (who appears at its centre) and the church dedicated to him where it originally stood. This is its predella – a horizontal board which is positioned below the main panel of an altarpiece, and typically shows scenes from the lives of the saints depicted above it.

Saint Jerome (Gerolamo or Girolamo in Italian), a fourth-century theologian, is best known for his translation of the Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek into Latin. The four images here show famous episodes from his life: Jerome removing a thorn from a lion’s paw; his vision of being beaten for enjoying pagan literature; his death; and his appearance with Saint John the Baptist to Saint Augustine. The coats of arms of the altarpiece’s patron appear at either end of the predella.

Key facts
Artist Francesco Botticini
Artist dates about 1446 - 1497
Full title Scenes from the Life of Saint Jerome: Predella
Group S. Gerolamo Altarpiece
Date made about 1490
Medium and support Tempera on poplar?
Dimensions 235 x 258 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1855
Inventory number NG227.2
Location in Gallery Not on display
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S. Gerolamo Altarpiece

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The S. Gerolamo Altarpiece, named after the saint prominently depicted at its centre and the church where it originally stood, is among the most important works of the Florentine painter Francesco Botticini. The artist was an exact contemporary of Sandro Botticelli, with whom he may have trained in the workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio.

The fourth-century theologian Saint Jerome (Gerolamo or Girolamo in Italian) is best known for his translation of the Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek into Latin. During the fifteenth century a cult dedicated to the saint found many followers (called Hieronymites), leading to the establishment of numerous religious houses across the Italian peninsula. This altarpiece comes from their church in Fiesole, a small town in the hills above Florence. Its patron, the Florentine patrician Girolamo di Piero di Cardinale Rucellai, can be seen kneeling to the left of the framed image of Saint Jerome, opposite his son.

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