Penitent St. Jerome (1507) by Albrecht Altdorfer

Penitent St. Jerome - Albrecht Altdorfer - 1507

Artwork Information

TitlePenitent St. Jerome
ArtistAlbrecht Altdorfer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance

About Penitent St. Jerome

The artwork titled “Penitent St. Jerome,” created by Albrecht Altdorfer in 1507, is an oil-on-wood painting that belongs to the Northern Renaissance art movement, characterized by a detailed and precise portrayal of its subjects. This religious painting, as its name suggests, portrays St. Jerome, a Christian scholar and translator par excellence, often depicted in his penitential phase.

In the artwork, St. Jerome is depicted in a wilderness setting, a common element in representations of his penitence. His aged form is shown with minimal cloth, his torso exposed, with an apparent emaciation that underscores his ascetic lifestyle. He is kneeling on the ground with his hands clasped in an expression of prayer or meditation. His gaze is directed upwards, possibly in a moment of divine supplication or contemplation. The saint’s overall demeanor communicates an acute penance and spiritual devotion.

Surrounding St. Jerome is a lush, verdant landscape, richly detailed with various plant species that convey a feeling of depth and solitude which compliments the saint’s contemplative state. This inclusion of nature is a hallmark of the Northern Renaissance, reflecting an increased interest in the natural world. On the ground next to him lies a cardinal’s hat, symbolizing his position in the Church, which he has set aside for penitential purposes. Additionally, a lion is present, and according to legend, St. Jerome was said to have removed a thorn from a lion’s paw, and the animal became his companion. This attributes to the overall religious iconography traditionally associated with depictions of the saint.

Other Artwork from Albrecht Altdorfer

More Northern Renaissance Artwork

Scroll to Top