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Moretto da Brescia, Saint Jerome

Key facts
Full title Saint Jerome
Artist Moretto da Brescia
Artist dates about 1498 - 1554
Series Shutters from a Triptych
Date made about 1540
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 153.6 × 54.2 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by the Misses Cohen as part of the John Samuel collection, 1906
Inventory number NG2093
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Saint Jerome
Moretto da Brescia

This is one of four paintings made to decorate a pair of shutters. Each of the shutters had a saint on the outside and an angel on the inside. The central image they would once have flanked is now missing, but is likely to have represented the Virgin Mary crowned in the heavens.

Saint Jerome is depicted as one of the four Latin Doctors of the Church. His red habit and hat resemble those of a cardinal, which is anachronistic as cardinals did not exist during Jerome’s lifetime. Saint Jerome was a fourth-century priest, theologian and historian. He translated most of the Bible from Greek into Latin, known as the Vulgate. He also translated the Old Testament from Hebrew into Latin and wrote commentaries on the Gospels.

Moretto had previously used the same figure of Saint Jerome in reverse in an altarpiece now in the Brera, Milan.

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Shutters from a Triptych


These four paintings come from a pair of shutters that were painted on both sides. The angel facing right was originally on the reverse of the shutter painted with Saint Joseph, who has a dark beard and turban and holds a book and flowering rod. The angel facing left was on the reverse of the shutter painted with Saint Jerome, who wears an abbot’s hat and reads a book. The two shutters had been divided into four paintings by the mid-nineteenth century, probably to make them easier to display as gallery pictures.

In their original form, when the shutters were closed only Saint Joseph and Saint Jerome would have been visible. When they were open, the angels would have flanked a central image, most likely showing the Virgin Mary crowned or about to be crowned in the heavens. The shutters probably date from the end of Moretto’s career and may be by his workshop.