Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Bite 131: Caravaggio - St. Jerome, 1605-06

St. Jerome, 1605-06, oil on canvas, 112 × 157 cm, Galleria Borghese
In the act of writing St. Jerome gives himself completely to his task. Pen and books become an extension of his body. Furrowed brow, head bowed, this is scholarship as an act of worship. 

The simplicity of the composition, as with the saint's attire, testify to Jerome's ascetic penance, seen as a requirement for an absolute dedication to study, writing and translation. A skull sits with him as a humble reminder of mortality and recognition of the greater purpose of his work.

St. Jerome is recognised as the patron saint of translators, librarians and encyclopedists.