Leonardo da Vinci’s Saint Jerome Praying in the Wilderness is a painting on display at The Met to honor the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death. The oil draft depicts Saint Jerome, a major saint and theologian of the Christian Church, during his retreat to the Syrian desert where he lived as a hermit. Although Leonardo continued reworking this painting throughout his life, he never completed it.
The painting portrays Jerome in advanced age with an expression of transfigured sorrow, and Leonardo’s mastery of gesture and facial expression is evident. Furthermore, his knowledge of anatomy is exemplified in his accurate depiction of Saint Jerome’s muscles and bones. This unfinished artwork showcases Leonardo’s emotional turmoil at that time.
Saint Jerome Praying in the Wilderness offers a unique perspective into Leonardo da Vinci’s artistic style and techniques used for depicting religious figures. While not complete, this piece exemplifies Leonardo’s ability to convey powerful emotions through his subjects’ expressions while maintaining anatomical accuracy. Overall, this artwork serves as both an homage to St. Jerome’s importance within Christianity as well as Leonardo da Vinci’s enduring contribution to art history.