Oil on oak panel.
Expert Analysis: Prof. Dr. Paul Vandenbroeck, Catholic University of Leuven / Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp.
Marcelus Coffermans was a Flemish Renaissance painter who was renowned for his paintings of religious themes. From 1594 he was a member of the Guild of St. Luke. His clientele was concentrated mainly in Spain, where most of his production has been found to date.
The painting depicts St. Jerome as a penitent, dressed in a dark brown garment. The Church Father kneels before the cross; in his right hand he holds a stone, with which he beats his chest to suppress his carnal desires. Before him a red hat is hung on a pole and a red cloak is tossed behind his back, symbols expressing respect for his position as a cardinal. To the right is the tamed lion from whose paw St. Jerome pulled a thorn, and since then it has accompanied him faithfully everywhere. In the background, a chapel and blue mountains are indicated. The entire scene exudes a somewhat melancholic mood – the artist chose rather dark warm tones, referencing a past era that he admired.