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Guido Reni, Saint Jerome

Key facts
Full title Saint Jerome
Artist Guido Reni
Artist dates 1575 - 1642
Date made about 1624-5
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 111.8 × 86.4 cm
Acquisition credit Holwell Carr Bequest, 1831
Inventory number NG11
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Saint Jerome
Guido Reni

Saint Jerome (about 342–420 AD) was a theologian, writer and hermit, famous for producing what is considered to be the first Latin translation of the Bible, known as the Vulgate. The saint is depicted here with a number of identifying attributes: a crucifix refers to his religious contemplation during a four-year retreat in the desert, the skull to his meditation on the transience of life, the rock an instrument of self-flagellation to ward off sinful thoughts, and the crimson-red cloak an allusion to the widely-held belief that he was ordained as a cardinal.

This painting is likely the half-length Saint Jerome that Guido Reni’s biographer Carlo Cesare Malvasia recorded as being in the Palazzo Barberini in Rome. It has been shown that this picture was acquired by the Barberini family from Carlo Ganotto in 1634, and subsequently appears listed in Barberini inventories from 1644 to 1740.

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