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Workshop of Gerard David, Saint Jerome in a Landscape

Key facts
Full title Saint Jerome in a Landscape
Artist Workshop of Gerard David
Artist dates active 1484; died 1523
Date made perhaps about 1501
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 35.3 × 23.7 cm
Inscription summary Inscribed
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2596
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Saint Jerome in a Landscape
Workshop of Gerard David

An elderly man kneels in landscape, beating his sunken and bleeding chest with a stone. He gazes up at a Crucifix attached to a tree, on which hangs a painted figure of Christ. This is Saint Jerome, hermit and translator of the Bible. His cardinal’s robes and hat lie discarded behind him.

The rocky and wooded landscape is presumably the wilderness to which he fled and where he beat his chest when tempted by sinful thoughts. According to legend, while there he pulled a thorn out of a lion’s paw. It remained his faithful companion until his death – here it lies beside him like a pet dog. The tower behind could be Bethlehem, where Jerome settled in the year 386.

This subject was very popular in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Jerome was seen as a role model for living an ascetic life – he renounced worldly riches and pleasure – and for the scholarly study of the Bible.

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