For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at Saint Jerome in his Study (1521) by Joos van Cleve.
About the Work
Title : Saint Jerome in his Study
Artist : Joos van Cleve
Year : 1521
Medium : Oil on panel
Dimensions : 99.7 x 83.8 cm (39 1/4 x 33 in.)
Location : Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Symbols of Death in Painting
Representations of Saint Jerome in his study were common in paintings of this era. Room 2540 itself has a few great examples of paintings with this subject.
Each painting with Saint Jerome in his study is packed with religious symbolism. This particular work by van Cleve alludes to mortality and the passage of time.
According to the digital catalogue of the Harvard Art Museums :
“The piece of paper tacked to the wall reads “Respice Finem” — consider the end. Grasping his head, Jerome points at a skull, whose craggy surface is rendered in detail. Beside him is a snuffed-out candle. Beyond such obvious symbols of death, the image is filled with subtler reminders of the passage of time.”
Joos van Cleve’s Saint Jerome in his Study is housed in the Harvard Art Museums in Room 2540. It is part of the museum’s collection of European Art, 13th–16th century – The Renaissance.
To learn more about iconic artworks and their socio-political context, visit Artwork in Focus.