(b. 1472, Firenze, d. 1517, Pian' di Mugnone)

Portrait of Girolamo Savonarola

c. 1498
Oil on wood, 47 x 31 cm
Museo di San Marco, Florence

Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498), born in Ferrara, was for some time prior of the Convent of San Marco. Inspired by an aversion for worldly things, and the highest religious ideals, with his example and his obscurely threatening and prophetic sermons he condemned first the corrupt way of life of Florence then the church hierarchy in Rome. Ignoring numerous reprimands and contemptuous of danger, he was condemned to death: together with his fellow friars, Domenico da Pescia and Silvestro Maruffi, he was hanged and burnt in Piazza Signoria on 23 May 1498.

Fra Bartolomeo, who entered the Dominican order, probably painted this portrait of Savonarola while the latter was still alive. We see the sharp profile of the ascetic painted against a black background under a dark hood. The Latin inscription on the panel below the portrait proves that the monk was considered to be a prophet: "Portrait of the prophet Jerome of Ferrara, sent by God."