St. Jerome in His Study

This engraving depicts a comfortable domestic interior. An old bearded man sits poring over a book at table in the back of the room. A lion and dog rest on the floor in the foreground. Various other objects appear around the room, including a skull, books, slippers, a crucifix, and a pair of scissors.
Albrecht Dürer
1514
Saint Jerome (331–420), who made the authoritative Latin translation of the Bible, sits hunched over his desk at the back of a room with pen in hand. Around the room we find evidence of Jerome’s fiery asceticism: the skull on the window ledge, the small crucifix on the corner of the desk, the hourglass on the back wall. But these reminders of transience, death, and transcendental concerns are dispersed among objects rooted in the everyday: a pair of scissors hanging on the back wall, the finely worked legs of the desk, or the pair of shoes sitting under the bench. The napping dog and drowsy lion stretch across the entrance to the room and embody the sense of domestic tranquility that pervades the scene. Jerome, however, remains immersed in his task, oblivious to the comforts surrounding him.
Gift of the Estate of Beatrice Bishop Berle
1993/2.1
Wednesday, December 1, 2021