Oil on canvas.
Jerome was a Christian writer, theologian, and translator of the Bible into Latin, called the Vulgate. The Catholic Church considers him, along with Sts. Ambrose, Augustine and Gregory the Great, to be one of the four western Fathers of the Church. He was probably the most talented linguist in the Christian world during the 4th and 5th centuries and was the only Church Father who spoke and wrote Hebrew perfectly.
This painting is inspired by a famous story. A lion appeared in the cave and all the monks fled in fear before him. Jerome asked the lion why he had come, and in reply, the animal lifted his wounded bleeding paw. The hermit treated the lion’s injuries, and the lion remained his loyal companion. St. Jerome, therefore, is often depicted accompanied by this animal. This particular painting presents Jerome as an older man deep in meditation in a rock cave near Aleppo. In his hand he holds a skull, one of his typical attributes, and next to him is the aforementioned lion. The scene is executed in earthy tones, with Jerome’s typical red coat adding an accent of colour. In the background is a cityscape indicated in cold bluish tones. At the top of the painting, figures of monks can be seen.