(b. 1541, Candia, d. 1614, Toledo)

St Jerome as a Scholar

Oil on canvas, 108 x 89 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Endowed with an unsurpassed classical education, Jerome (c. 342-420) became an outstanding biblical scholar as well as the translator of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate). During the Renaissance, paintings showing him either in his study or performing acts of penance in the wilderness adorned the walls of the homes of many humanists and scholars. El Greco painted both types.

In this painting El Greco represented the scholar-cardinal standing behind his desk, marking his place with his thumb as he looks up, interrupted by an unexpected visitor. Five versions from El Greco's workshop and four copies are known, the two finest of which are in the Frick Collection, New York and the Metropolitan Museum. The Frick painting is his earliest formulation of the theme, the Metropolitan painting is a later replica.