Arts & Culture

Saint Jerome in his Study

Vincenzo Catenaprobably about 1510

The National Gallery, London
The National Gallery, London

Saint Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin from the original Greek and Hebrew, is shown reading in his study. He is surrounded by books, an inkwell, an unlit candle and a crucifix (which seems not to be attached to the desk and may be a vision). A quail (a bird also included by Catena in 'A Warrior adoring the Infant Christ and the Virgin' and possibly symbolic of truth) and Jerome's traditional attribute of a lion (from whose paw, according to legend, the saint had removed a thorn) are seen in the foreground.

The pink and blue of Jerome's robes and the blue of his cardinal's hat are unusual in representations of the saint. Saint Jerome was traditionally shown in red, although until the 1460s it was customary for cardinals to wear a violet or blue cape unless granted the privilege of wearing red when acting on papal business.

There is another version of the painting in Frankfurt-am-Main.

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  • Title: Saint Jerome in his Study
  • Creator: Vincenzo Catena
  • Date Created: probably about 1510
  • School: Italian
  • Physical Dimensions: w984 x h759 cm
  • More Info: More Artist Information
  • Inventory number: NG694
  • Artist Biography: Vincenzo Catena was a Venetian who seems to have started painting in the style of Bellini and his follower Cima. By 1506 he had formed a partnership with Giorgione, whose style continued to influence him, even after Giorgione's death in 1510. Catena's work is less lyrical than Giorgione's but has a solidity and charm of its own. The first notice of Catena is the inscription on the back of Giorgione's portrait of 'Laura' dated 1506 (in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) describing Catena as his partner. Such partnerships were not uncommon in the 15th and 16th centuries. Catena appears to have had an independent income and to have moved in the circles of Venetian humanists such as Pietro Bembo. This may have been how he met Giorgione. A comparison of the background of Catena's 'Warrior adoring the Infant Christ' with Giorgione's 'Sunset Landscape' shows Catena's debt to him.
  • Acquisition Credit: Bought, 1862
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: The National Gallery, London
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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