Artwork of the Week: September 27, 2021
REMBRANDT HARMENSZOON VAN RIJN, ST. JEROME KNEELING IN PRAYER, LOOKING DOWN, 1635, Etching 11.7 × 8.3 cm (4 5/8 × 3 1/4) Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Ronald and Eileen Ragsdale
September 30 marks the feast day of St. Jerome in some Christian denominations. Born in the fourth century A.D., Jerome became a notable priest, theologian, and historian. Jerome is perhaps best known for his lifetime commitment to translating and interpreting scripture, notably his translation of the Bible known as the Vulgate which rendered a Latin version of the text directly from Hebrew.
The pious Jerome became a popular subject in artwork. Here, Rembrandt creates an intimate view of the hermetic saint. The aged scriptorian kneels, hands clasped in earnest prayer. His lion companion, alleged to have been tended to by the kindly saint when injured, kneels beside him. With the faintest of etching marks, Rembrandt also gives a glimpse of a vessel and book in Jerome’s small chamber.