Saint Jerome in the Wilderness

Object Details


Saint Jerome in the Wilderness


Ercole de'Roberti (Italian, about 1450 - 1496)




about 1470


Tempera on panel


34 x 21.9 cm (13 3/8 x 8 5/8 in.)

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For four years, Saint Jerome retreated to the desert, where he purified his soul through physical suffering. The bearded saint sits in front of a barren and rocky background, his emaciated body a testament to his ascetic life. He directs his gaze to a crucifix that he holds in his left hand. During his time of religious contemplation, Saint Jerome was tormented by vivid hallucinations; his right hand clasps a rock with which he would beat his breast until the visions passed. A nook in the vaulted structure behind him holds his attributes: a cardinal's hat and a book referring to his translation of the Bible into Latin. A small lion inside the shelter recalls the fable in which Jerome pulls a thorn from a lion's paw, forever securing the animal's devotion. Ercole de'Roberti was artist to the court of Ferrara in northern Italy. The elongated forms, taut, linear rhythms, subtle colors, and meticulous, gold-flecked details of this painting convey the sophistication prized by Ercole's aristocratic patrons. This small devotional painting demands a focused concentration from the viewer that echoes Jerome's efforts to come closer to God.

by 1854 -

William Ward, first earl of Dudley, 1817 - 1885 (Witley Court, Hereford and Worcester, England)

- 1863

Rev. Walter Davenport-Bromley, 1787 - 1863 (London, England; Wooton Hall, Stafford, England; Baginton Hall, Warwick, England) [unsold, Davenport-Bromley sale, Christie's, London, June 13, 1863, lot 125.], by inheritance to his son, William Bromley-Davenport, 1863.

1863 - 1884

William Bromley-Davenport, 1821 - 1884 (Baginton Hall, Warwick, England), by inheritance to William Bromley-Davenport, 1884.

1884 - 1947

Sir William Bromley-Davenport, 1862 - 1949 (Baginton Hall, Warwick, England; Capesthorne Hall, near Macclesfield, Cheshire, England) [sold, Bromley-Davenport sale, Sotheby's, London, June 2, 1947, lot 5, to Colnaghi.]

1947 -

Colnaghi (London, England; Paris, France), sold to Thomas Barlow.

by 1949 - 1964

Sir Thomas Dalmahoy Barlow, 1883 - 1964 (London, England), by inheritance to his son Basil Stephen Barlow, 1964.

1964 - 1991

Basil Stephen Barlow, 1918 - 1991 (London, England), by inheritance to his heirs

1991 - 1996

Heirs of Basil Stephen Barlow, 1918 - 1991 (London, England) [unsold, as "property of a lady," Christie's, London, December 13, 1991, lot 76], sold through Simon Dickinson Ltd. (London) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996.

Italian Art from the 13th Century to the 17th Century (August 18 to October 2, 1955) (87)
  • Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery, (Birmingham), August 18 to October 2, 1955
Art Treasures Centenary: European Old Masters (October 30 to December 31, 1957) (Cat. 8; pl. 2)
  • Manchester Art Gallery, (Manchester), October 30 to December 31, 1957
Italian Art and Britain (January 2 to March 6, 1960) (Cat. 8; pl. 2)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), January 2 to March 6, 1960
From Borso to Cesare d'Este: The School of Ferrara 1450 - 1628 (June 1 to August 1, 1984) (9; p. 67, pl. 9 (color))
  • Matthiesen Fine Art Ltd., (London), June 1 to August 1, 1984
La minatura a Ferrara dal tempo di Cosmè Tura al primo Cinquecento (March 1 to May 31, 1998) (9; p. 67, pl. 9 (color))
  • Museo Civico di Schifanoia (Ferrara), March 1 to May 31, 1998
Ercole de' Roberti: Renaissance in Ferrara (April 27 to July 11, 1999) (3)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), April 27 to July 11, 1999
The Gualenghi d'Este Hours (May 9 to July 30, 2000) (3)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), May 9 to July 30, 2000
Cosmè Tura e Francesco del Cossa: L'arte a Ferrara nell'età di Borso d'Este (September 23, 2007 to January 6, 2008) (154)
  • Palazzo dei Diamanti (Ferrara), September 23, 2007 to January 6, 2008

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Natale, Mauro, ed. Cosmè Tura e Francesco del Cossa: L'arte a Ferrara nell'età di Borso d'Este, exh. cat. (Ferrara: Palazzo dei Diamanti; with Ferrara Arte, 2007), pp. 421, 472-73, no. 154, ill., entry by Giovanni Sassu.