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Artist: Bouts, Albrecht 1 of 1
The Penitence of St. Jerome

The Penitence of St. Jerome, c. 1520

Albrecht Bouts
Flemish, c.1452/5-1549
Oil on panel
16-1/8 x 17-3/4 in. (41 x 45.1 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

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Albrecht Bouts was the second son of Dieric Bouts. His workshop specialized in the production of modest, small scale devotional pictures which proved very popular with his Catholic contemporaries as an aid to private prayer. Depictions of St. Jerome (c. 347–420), one of the learned Fathers of the Western Church, first appear in Italy around 1400. Following the 1516 publication of Erasmus of Rotterdam’s study of the saint, his image became popular in Northern Europe as well. Here the saint is shown as a penitent hermit in the desert, kneeling before the Crucifix, as he beats his breast with a stone. The cardinal's robes, strewn across a small tree, allude to his position as a Doctor of the Church. Nearby sits the lion that became his devoted companion after the saint removed a thorn from his paw. The precisely painted landscape is a testament to the Flemish love for detail and realism.

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Artist: Bouts, Albrecht 1 of 1