Saint jerome in meditation is a painting that captivates with its artistic style, composition and use of color. With an original size of 38 x 47 cm, this work immerses us in history and reveals little-known aspects about the life of saint jerome.
Jerome was a priest and theologian that was famous for his translation of the bible from Greek to Latin. He was a prolific scholar that studied grammar and rhetoric, and was proficient in many languages, including Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Chaldaic. He also had a long literary preparation, and spent years in several cities, such as his birthplace Stridon (in today’s Dalmatia), Rome, Trier and others.
In this painting, we see him in his study reading and writing, with an outstretched arm resting on a quill. This posture demonstrates his profound concentration and deep focus. The surrounding objects, such as the books, a crucifix and a skull, reinforce this serious and contemplative atmosphere. He is considered the patron saint of translators, librarians and encyclopedists.
The ivy in the background recalls a sinuous plant that offers shelter and possibilities of life to the lion and jerome, as well as a reference to the biblical typology of Christ “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5). In this way, Durer memorializes Jerome’s courage in his philological dispute with Augustine over the choice of the word hedera (from the Greek, meaning ivy) instead of the Latin cucurbita, which was commonly used at the time.