St Jerome Penitent in the Wilderness (c.1496) by Albrecht Durer

St Jerome Penitent in the Wilderness - Albrecht Durer - c.1496

Artwork Information

TitleSt Jerome Penitent in the Wilderness
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance

About St Jerome Penitent in the Wilderness

The artwork titled “St Jerome Penitent in the Wilderness” was created by Albrecht Dürer around 1496. It is an engraving that belongs to the Northern Renaissance period and falls within the genre of religious painting.

In the artwork, we see an aged St. Jerome, a Christian scholar known for translating the Bible into Latin, in a state of penitence. St. Jerome is depicted with a long beard and a balding head, and he is almost bare except for a draped piece of cloth covering his lower body. The saint is sitting on a rocky ground in a desolate wilderness, engaging in prayer or contemplation. His right hand is raised to his chest while his left hand holds a stone, symbolizing self-chastisement, a common practice among penitents to express remorse for their sins.

Beside him lies a calm lion, which according to legend, St. Jerome removed a thorn from its paw, earning the creature’s eternal loyalty. The surrounding landscape is rugged and wild, with various types of vegetation and rocky outcroppings. In the background, there are hints of civilization, with buildings nestled between trees and cliffs. Dürer’s attention to detail is evident in the fine lines and textures that capture the natural elements, from the foliage to the lion’s mane to St. Jerome’s weary expression. The composition invites the viewer to reflect on themes of repentance, spirituality, and the relationship between mankind and nature.

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