Height: 213.000 mm
Width: 181.000 mm
Prints and Drawings
Albrecht Dürer, St Jerome seated near a pollard willow, a drypoint
Germany, dated AD 1512
The saint as a desert hermit
Dürer only made three
St Jerome is usually depicted in two ways: as a scholar in his study, or as a penitent sinner, beating his chest with a rock to deaden his flesh to sin. Dürer has combined these traditions, and moved the scholar in his desk into a landscape. This setting for St Jerome was popular in Venice, where Dürer had stayed twice. The pool and rocky foreground, and the view into the distance (glimpsed to the left of the crucifix) are characteristic of the Venetian paintings, such as versions by Giovanni Bellini in the National Galleries of London and Washington.
St Jerome (382-405) was responsible for translating the Bible into the Latin 'Vulgate' version, the Bible of the Western Church through the Middle Ages and still the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church. The Vulgate was over 1,000 years old by 1500. The printing of translations from the original Greek became a topic of bitter public debate. Martin Luther published a version of the New Testament in German in 1522; William Tyndale produced an English version in 1526, a crime for which he was burnt at the stake in 1536.
E. Panofsky, The life and art of Albrecht D (Princeton University Press, 1945, 1971)
G. Bartrum, German Renaissance prints, 149, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)