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Saint Jerome in His Study, ca. 1435

  • Jan van Eyck, Netherlandish, ca. 1395-1441

Oil on linen paper on oak panel

  • Unframed: 8 1/8 × 5 1/4 inches (20.6 × 13.3 cm) Image (paint film): 7 7/8 × 4 7/8 inches (20 × 12.4 cm)
  • 12 9/16 × 9 5/8 × 1 7/8 inches (31.9 × 24.4 × 4.8 cm)

City of Detroit Purchase


On View

  • European: Medieval and Renaissance W240


European Painting

Delicate and intricate in its execution and rich in its symbolism, this small panel painting attributed to the workshop of Jan van Eyck depicts Saint Jerome, the fourth-century translator of the Bible, reading in his study. According to legend, Jerome extracted a thorn from a lion's paw. The books and other objects seen here relate to the saint's intellectual pursuits and take on symbolic meanings. The hourglass is traditionally equated with the passage of time and human mortality. The glass bottle is undisturbed by the light passing through it just as the virginity of Mary was undisturbed by the Holy Spirit when she conceived Jesus. The jar labeled tyriaca (an antidote for snakebite) surmounted by a pomegranate (a symbol of the resurrection) refers to Christ as the savior of the world. Based on the inscription on the folded letter on the table, it has been suggested that the figure of Saint Jerome is a disguised portrait of Cardinal Niccolò Albergati.

Inscribed, possibly upper left wall above saint's head: 1442

Duke of Mantua, Ferdinando Carlo Gonzaga [1652-1708]

before 1738, Field Marshall Johann Matthias von der Schulenberg [1661-1747] (Venice, Italy)

October 1738, Schulenberg family (Berlin, Germany) [cited as no. 38 "Andreas Mantegna" in family inventories 1741, 1774]

by descent through Schulenberg family (possibly at their home Hehlen, near Hanover, Germany). 1924-1925, (Paul Bottenwieser, Berlin, Germany)

1925-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA) [Possible provenance proposed by Erwin Panofsky:] painted for Cardinal Niccolò Albergati [1373-1443]

acquired by his estate executor Tommaso Parentucelli (later Pope Nicholas V) [1397-1455]. before 1492, acquired by Medici family (described in inventory of 1492). [See also proposed provenance in Eidelberg & Rowlands, 1994.]

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[Discussion: Response to B. Heller: by M. Faries. Pp. 145-146.; by J.R.J. van Asperen de Boer, pp. 146-147.; Comment by R. Wieck. pp. 147-148.; Response to comment by Van Asperen de Boer, p. 148] Klein, Peter. “Dendrochronological Findings of the van Eyck-Christus-Bouts Group.” Petrus Christus in Renaissance Bruges: an interdisciplinary approach. p. 152 (table 4). [see Heller/Stodulski above] Sander, John. Niederländische Gemälde im Städel 1400-1550. Mainz, 1995, p. 230 (fig. 142) [cited under inv. no. 1091, St. Jerome by G. David] Henshaw, Julia ed. The Detroit Institute of Arts: A Visitor's Guide. Detroit, 1995, p. 170 (col. ill.). Meijer, Bert W. “Piero and the North.” Studies in the History of Art 48 (1995): 142-159, p. 155, note 16. Marijnissen, R.H., and L. Kockaert. “The Detroit ‘Saint Jerome’: The Story of an Interdisciplinary Approach.” Academiae Analecta 56, 1 (1996): pp. 1-40 (ill.). Nuttal, P. “Domenico Ghirlandaio and Northern Art.” Apollo 143, 412 (1996): pp. 16-22. 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Heller, Barbara and Leon Stodulski. “’St. Jerome’ in the Laboratory: Scientific Evidence and the Enigmas of an Ecykian Panel.” Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 72, ½ (1998) pp. 38-55 (ill.). Christiansen, Keith. “The View from Italy.” In From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Keith Christiansen and Maryan W. Ainsworth. New York, 1998, pp. 43-49, note 16. Fahy, Everett. “How the Pictures Got Here.” In From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Keith Christiansen and Maryan W. Ainsworth. New York, 1998, p. 63. Sterling, Charles and Maryan Ainsworth. “Virgin and Child.” Fifteenth- to Eighteenth-Century European Paintings: France, Central Europe, The Netherlands, Spain, and Great Britain, series: Robert Lehman Collection, Vol. 2. New York, 1998, p. 24 (note 6). [attrib. to workshop of Jan van Eyck] Ainsworth, Maryan. Gerard David: Purity of Vision in an Age of Transition. New York, 1998, p. 157. Locher, Hubert. Domenico Ghirlandaio Hieronymus im Gehäuse, Malerkonkurrenz und Gelehrtenstreit. Frankfurt am Main, 1999, pp. 39-41, 63 (ill., fig. 17; detail fig. 26). Freedman, Luba. “Titian’s Jacopo da Strada: a portrait of an ‘antiquario’.” Renaissance Studies 13, no. 1 (1999): 15-39, pp. fig. 4 (ill.). Osano Shigeoshi. “Speculation on the Detroit Institute of Arts’ ‘St. Jerome in His Study’: The History of Its Philosophical Aspects and Their Acceptance.” Studies in Western Art 1 (1999): pp. 8-32 (ill. and col. detail on cover). [in Japanese] Il Rinascimento a Venezia e la pittura del Nord ai tempi di Bellini, Dürer, Tiziano. Exh. cat., Palazzo Grassi. Venice, 1999, pp. 212-216 (no. 15 col. ill.). [entry by B. Aikema] Rubin, Patricia Lee and Alison Wright. Renaissance Florence: The Art of the 1470s. London, 1999, p. 42, fig. 22 (ill.). Bek, Lise. Leon Battista Alberti: Om Billedkunsten. Copenhagen, 2000, p. 32 (ill.). [as by Jan van Eyck and Petrus Christus] Barstow, Kurt. The Gualenghi-d’Este Hours: Art and Devotion in Renaissance Ferrara. Los Angeles, 2000, pp. 74-75, 106, fig. 45, 90-91 note 61 (ill.) Campbell, Lorne. “Jan van Eyck, Early Netherlandish Painting and Southern Europe.” Burlington Magazine 144, 1191 (June 2002): 367-371, pp. 367-371, fig. 43 (ill.). [review of exhibition] Borchert, Till-Holger. The Age of Van Eyck: The Mediterranean World and Early Netherlandish Painting 1430–1530. Exh. cat., Stedelijke Musea. Bruges, 2002, pp. 97–98 (ill.); p. 121; p. 201; p. 225; p. 237, no. 30 (ill.). Giorgi, Rosa. “Saints in Art,” series Guide to Imagery. S. Zuffi, ed., transl. from Italian by T. M. Hartmann. Los Angeles, 2003, p. 180 (ill.). [originally publ. in Italian, Milan: Elemond, 2002] Puppi, Lionello. Antonello da Messina. San Girolamo nello Studio. Milan, 2003, pp. 31-46 (ill.). Folga-Januszewska, Dorota and Antoni Ziemba. Transalpinum: From Giorgone and Dürer to Titian and Rubens. Olszanica, 2004. Nuttal, Paula. From Flanders to Florence. The Impact of Netherlandish Painting, 1400-1500. New Haven, 2004, pp. 107-108. [mentioned in review by. B. Aikema. Burlington Magazine 148 (Feb. 2006), pp. 121-122.] Châtelet, Albert., ed., “Les peintres flamands et l'Italie.” Van Eyck et la diffusion de l'art flamand, series Dossier de l'Art 119 (2005): pp.48-59 (ill.). [as by "Jan Coene (?)"] Das Geheimnis des Jan van Eyck. Exh. cat., Staatliche Kunstsammlungen. Dresden, 2005, p. 204, (repro. fig 1). [not in exhibit, cited under cat. 75] Evans, Mark. “The After-Life of St. Jerome: Giovanni Bilivert's Portrait of Neri Corsini.” Ciracumdederunt me amici multi: A Tribute to James Marrow from his Friends. Turnhout, 2006, pp. 189-196. Aikema, Bernard. Review of From Flanders to Florence. The Impact of Netherlandish Painting, 1400-1500 by Paula Nuttal. The Burlington Magazine 148 (February 2006): 121-122, p. 122. At Home in Renaissance Italy. Victoria & Albert Museum, Exh. cat. 223. London, 2006-2007, pp. 293, 366, (repro.). [not in exhibition] Fera, Vincenzo. “Lo Studio del ‘San Girolamo’ di Antonello.” Prospettiva no. 126-127 (April -June 2007): 105-114, pp. 106, 107, 113 (ill.) Bodart, Diane. “Renaissance and Mannerism.” Florence and Milan, 2008, p. 71 (ill.) Brinkmann, Bodo and Gabriele Dette. Fokus auf Meister des Hausbuchs (Umkreis): Hieronymus und sein Löwe, 1480 (Inv. Nr. 1215), Exh. cat. and booklet. Städel Museum. Frankfurt, 2008, pp. 4-5, fig. 1 (ill.). [not in exhibition - as follower of Van Eyck] Firenze e gli antichi Paesi Bassi 1430 - 1530 dialoghi tra artisti: da Jan van Eyck a Ghirlandaio, da Memling a Raffaello..., Exh. cat. Galleria Palatina. Florence, 2008, pp. 86-88. [entry by Judie Bogers. As Jan van Eyck (?)] Brown, B.L. “Florence and the Netherlands.” The Burlington Magazine Vol. CL, 1266 (September 2008): p. 639 (ill.). [as Jan van Eyck (?)] Dieter Wuttke, ed. Erwin Panofsky Korrespondenz 1910 bis 1968, 4 vols. Harrassowitz Verlag Wiesbaden, 2008, vol IV, pp. 174, 792. Deneffe, Dominique. “La miniature eyckienne.” In Miniatures flamandes 1404-1482, Bernard Bousmanne and Thierry Delcourt eds. Exh. cat., Paris, 2011, pp. 166-171. Fattorini, Gabriele. “Matteo di Giovanni’s ‘St. Jerome’ for the notaries’ guild of Sienna.” The Burlington Magazine 154, no. 1312 ( July 2012): 468-475, p. 473. Woodall, Joanna. “’De wisselaer’: Quentin Matsys’s ‘Man weighing gold coins and his wife,’ 1514.” Nederlands Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek 64 (2014): 38-75, p. 70, note 55. Capron, Emma, Maryan Ainworth and Till-Holger Borchert. The Charterhouse of Bruges: Jan Van Eyck, Petrus Christus, and Jan Vos. Exh. cat., Frick Collection. New York, 2018, pp. 4, 31, 114, fig. 71 (ill.); pp. 127–129, 131, note 41. [as by workshop of Jan Van Eyck] You, Yao-Fen. “Paul Coremans, Edgar Richardson and the 1960 Flemish Art show: A Transatlantic Friendship Forged by a Transatlantic Exhibition.” In A Man of Vision, Scientia Artis 15. Brussels, 2019, pp. 160, 162 (ill.). Martens, Maximiliaan, Till-Holger Borchet, Jan Dumolyn, et. al., ed. Van Eyck: An Optical Revolution. Exh. cat., Museum door Schone Kunsten. Ghent, 2020, pp. 342, 391, 393, 425, 494, p. 340 (ill.). Torfs, Michaël. "New Information from the Vatican archives sheds more light on life of painter Jan Van Eyck." VRT News (June 20, 2021): Accessed on: July 12, 2021.

Jan van Eyck, Saint Jerome in His Study, ca. 1435, oil on linen paper on oak panel. Detroit Institute of Arts, City of Detroit Purchase, 25.4.