St. Augustine in His Study (Carpaccio)
|Type||Tempera on panel|
|Dimensions||141 cm × 210 cm (56 in × 83 in)|
|Location||Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni, Venice|
St. Augustine in His Study (also called Vision of St. Augustine) is a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Vittore Carpaccio housed in the Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni of Venice, northern Italy.
The works dates to Carpaccio's mature period, when he was called by the "scuola" (guild or corporation) of the Schiavoni (Dalmatians) to executed a cycle of seven paintings on the stories of patron saints (George, Jerome and Tryphon) and evangelic episodes. The work began in 1502 and was completed in 1507.
The work portrays the traditional episode of St. Jerome appearing to St. Augustine to announce his imminent death and departure to Heaven. Carpaccio portrayed the African saint in his studio, in the moment in which he is distracted from his reading by the voice of Jerome, coming as a luminous shape in the window near the desk. The room is that typical of an acculturated humanist of the painter's age, depicted with his usual attention to details.
The room is grossly rectangular, with a painted ceiling. Augustine sits on a bench over a pad, covered with green cloth and lined with studs; the desk is supported by a candelabrum. Some of the books show musical lines. Under the window are a file and an hourglass. Other elements depicted include measurement instruments, precious caskets, a bell, a shell, an armillary sphere, vases, bottles and others.
In the center is a niche with an altar, where, as shown by the curtain moved aside, are Augustine's liturgic objects: a vest, a mitre, the crosier and a thurible which hangs near two candelabra. At the side of the altars are two twin portals, with fine decorations in Renaissance style. The left one is open, and shows a small room with a window, according to the taste for different lighting sources inspired by Flemish painting: this had become popular in Venice after its use by Antonello da Messina in paintings such as St. Jerome in His Study, which Carpaccio could perhaps observe and study. Here is a further number of details: a table with three couples of crossed legs and covered by a red tablecloth, further books, and, on a shelf running for the room's perimeter, several scientific and astronomical instruments, including Regiomontanus' astrolabe which, at the time, was owned only by John Bessarion, and is likely to have inspired Carpaccio for the saint's representation.
On the left two long shelves, housing more books with gaudy covers, a series of antiques (vases, bronze and others), a candle basement shaped as a lion paw (another is placed symmetrically on the opposite wall) and, below, large volumes, a seat and a prie-dieu. In the center of the room is a maltese dog and, nearby, a cartouche with the artist's signature and the date.