A Saint in Everyday Clothing
More than 500 years ago, the Italian painter Ercole de'Roberti depicted a bearded Saint Jerome sitting in the desert wearing what looks like a pair of white shorts. These "shorts" were, in fact, undergarments.
When this painting was made, men wore short tunics with undergarments that looked like boxer shorts. However, most painters of the time depicted Saint Jerome as a spiritual, heavenly looking holy man. But this artist did something different. He showed Saint Jerome as an everyday man, someone who wore the same kind of clothing as everyone else. This was highly unusual.
De'Roberti was an artist at the court of Ferrara in northern Italy, working for the Este family. In addition to his work as the family's painter, he did a variety of other jobs for the Este family, including serving as wardrobe manager for daughter Isabella's gala wedding. Maybe it was this experience that focused his attention on what people were wearing.