St. Jerome in His Study (Antonello da Messina)
|Artist||Antonello da Messina|
|Type||Oil on wood|
|Dimensions||45.7 cm × 36.2 cm (18.0 in × 14.3 in)|
|Location||National Gallery, London|
The picture was painted by Antonello during his Venetian sojourn, and was property of Antonio Pasqualino.
The small picture portrays St. Jerome working in his studio, a room without walls and ceiling seen from a kind of triumphal arch (probably within some church of Aragonese style). As in several other works by the Messinese painter, the main scene is accompanied by a host of details, that have point of contacts with the contemporary Flemish school: books, animals, objects, all painted with a magnificent taste for details and "optical truth".
The scene is devised such that the light rays coincide with the perspective axes, centering on the saints's bust and hands. A Mediterranean landscape is hinted at through the windows opening on both sides of the study. Animals include a partridge (alectoris graeca) and a peacock, in the foreground, both having symbolical meanings, a cat and a mysterious lion in the shade on the right.
Antonello uses many symbols throughout the painting. The book he is reading represents knowledge. The books surrounding St. Jerome refer to his translation of the Bible into Latin, the Vulgate. The lion in the shadows to the right of the saint is from a story where St. Jerome pulls a thorn out of a lion's paws. In gratitude, the lion follows St. Jerome around for the rest of his life, like a house cat. The peacock and partridge have no importance to the story of St. Jerome. However, the peacock more generally symbolizes immortality.
- Battisti, Eugenio. Antonello, il teatro sacro, gli spazi, la donna (Il labirinto). Palermo: Novecento. ISBN 88-373-0021-2.