National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Saint Jerome El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos)
El Greco (painter)
Greek, 1541 - 1614
Saint Jerome, c. 1610/1614
oil on canvas
overall: 168 x 110.5 cm (66 1/8 x 43 1/2 in.) framed: 194.3 x 137.2 x 6.4 cm (76 1/2 x 54 x 2 1/2 in.)
Chester Dale Collection
1943.7.6
On View
From the Tour: El Greco
Object 7 of 8

The Counter-Reformation renewed emphasis on penance and other sacraments attacked by Protestants. Here Saint Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin in the late fourth century, has retreated to the desert. He holds the rock he will use to beat his chest in punishment for loving secular learning too much.

This unfinished painting provides evidence of El Greco's working method. He began with a ground coat of dark reddish brown, still visible in many places. He outlined the figure with heavy dark contours, as in Jerome's lower left leg, then used thin, fluid strokes of lighter paint to define the body, as the right leg reveals. With a stiff brush and thick white paint he enlivened some parts of the anatomy, most noticeably the torso. And in completed areas such as the saint's face, he smoothed these jagged contours.

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