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Giorgio Schiavone, Saint Jerome

Key facts
Full title Saint Jerome
Artist Giorgio Schiavone
Artist dates 1436/7 - 1504
Series S. Niccolò Altarpiece, Padua
Date made probably 1456-61
Medium and support Tempera on wood
Dimensions 32.5 × 25 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1860
Inventory number NG630.7
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Saint Jerome
Giorgio Schiavone

This impressively bearded figure is a fourth-century saint, Jerome, one of the Fathers of the Christian Church. He holds several books – symbolising his extensive writings, including the first official translation of the Bible into Latin – and a stone.

A red hat held on by a string hangs down his back; you can see its tassel through his beard. Late in his life Saint Jerome became secretary to the Pope, so is often shown with the red robes and hat of a cardinal.

This painting comes from the upper level of a large polyptych (multi-panelled altarpiece) painted by Giorgio Schiavone, probably for the church of San Niccolò in Padua; other panels from it are also in our collection. We are not sure exactly what order the panels were in, but Jerome must have been on the left, looking inwards.

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S. Niccolò Altarpiece, Padua


These ten panels once made up a polyptych (multi-panelled altarpiece) painted by Giorgio Schiavone, probably between 1456 and 1461. They were perhaps originally made for the chapel of the Frigimelina family in the church of San Niccolò in Padua.

In the fifteenth century the chapel may have been dedicated to the Virgin Mary, as she appears in the middle with saints on either side. We don‘t know exactly how the panels were arranged, but the full-length saints would have been in the bottom layer with the half-length figures above; this was a very popular format for Italian polyptychs. The altarpiece may well have had an elaborate frame, now missing.

The artist’s real name was Juraj Čulinović. Schiavone means ’Slavonian': he came from Dalmatia (in modern-day Croatia) but trained in Squarcione’s workshop in Padua in the late 1450s, when these panels were painted.