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Possibly by El Greco, Saint Jerome as Cardinal

Key facts
Full title Saint Jerome as Cardinal
Artist Possibly by El Greco
Artist dates 1541 - 1614
Date made 1590-1600
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 59 × 48 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1882
Inventory number NG1122
Location Room 30
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Saint Jerome as Cardinal
Possibly by El Greco

Once mistaken for a portrait of a cardinal, this painting in fact shows Saint Jerome dressed in cardinal’s robes. He was often painted this way as recognition of his high status in the Catholic Church, even though the office did not exist during his lifetime. His major achievement was to translate the Bible into Latin. Here he points to this great work, staring into the distance, his thumb marking his place.

El Greco and his studio painted several versions of this image. This version, which is on a smaller scale than the others and now quite worn, is of inferior quality and may have been made as a reduced copy to show to prospective patrons.

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