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Saint Jerome in Penitence

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Saint Jerome in Penitence About 1595 - 1600


This devotional image shows the penitent St Jerome meditating on a crucifix while beating his chest with a stone. The cave-like setting recalls St Jerome's years as a hermit in the desert. The books and pen symbolise his scholarly activity, including his translation of the Bible into Latin, while the skull and hour-glass represent the transience of life. Although the office of cardinal did not exist in Jerome's lifetime he is often depicted with a cardinal's hat, as here, referring to his service to the Pope and his posthumous status as a doctor of the church.

Glossary Open

Devotional art

Religious images used privately as a focus of prayer or an aid to meditation.


The representation of subjects or ideas by use of a device or motif to create underlying meaning. A literary and artistic movement that originated in France and spread through much of Europe in the late 19th century. There was no consistent style but rather an appeal to the idea of the artist as mystic or visionary and the desire to express a world beyond superficial appearances.

Devotional art, Symbolism


  • Acc. No. NG 1873
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 104.20 x 96.50 cm
  • Credit Purchased 1936