BASTIANI, Lazzaro
(b. ca. 1430, Venezia, d. ca. 1512, Venezia)

Communion of St Jerome

1470-72
Oil on canvas, 191 x 240 cm
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

In the second half of the fourteenth century, Augustinian nuns erected a church in the district of Cannareggio in Venice and dedicated the sacristy and a confraternity to St Jerome. They ambitiously decorated their headquarter with paintings depicting episodes from the life of the titular saint. Bastiani's contribution to the cycle consisted of two huge canvases, the Communion of St Jerome, and the Funeral of St Jerome.

In the Communion of St Jerome, the saint is kneeling in his cell, as is confirmed by his bed, the open book, the crucifix, and the scourge. He is supported by his friend and disciple Eusebius and surrounded by the brethren. A pillar defines another scene. In the cloister of the monastery in Jerusalem, Jerome faces a person in eastern attire while he walks in the garden with another individual dressed in the Greek style, which may allude to his battle against heresy. The huge tree in the foreground is a symbol of salvation and life, while in the background, the hills, the battlements, and the well, although drawn from real life, are Marian symbols designed to inspire the devout to meditation and silent prayer. On the right, the quail represent the church, and the lion, the usual attribute of the saint, also belongs to St Mark and thus to the Venetian Republic.