JAN SANDERS VAN HEMESSEN
ST JEROME AS A MONK
In Netherlandish painting of the 15th and 16th centuries there are numerous depictions of St Jerome, one of the four Latin Fathers of the Church. As the translator of the Old and New Testaments into Latin (the Vulgate), he was highly esteemed by humanists, who regarded him as a kind of patron saint. This was reinforced when his writings were reissued by Erasmus of Rotterdam in 1516 as well as by the iconography of the saint which associated him with idea of transience as symbolised here by the memento mori in the form of the skull.
The humanist Nicolaas Rockox possessed 25 paintings with religious subjects, only two of which depicted individual saints: a Conversion of St Paul and this
St Jerome.
As befitting its subject, this painting did not hang in the Great Parlour as shown in Frans Francken’s gallery painting, but in the adjacent studiolo, a place of
contemplation and study.
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Jan Sanders van Hemessen
St Jerome as a Monk
Oil on wood
height 103 cm, width 81 cm
Rockoxhuis, Antwerpen, Inv.-No. 77.3
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