(b. ca. 1480, Bouvignes, d. 1524, Antwerpen)

St Jerome in the Desert

c. 1520
Oil on wood, 78 x 137 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

This meditative master is unparalleled in his power of absorbing the parable of some Biblical episode or the meditation of St Anthony into a natural scene in which he makes us completely forget the picture's dimensions through the amplitude of what it suggests. We have before us space painted, time and space rendered sensible to our eyes. In his St Jerome, those bluish vistas fade beautifully into the distance under wide white skies. The painter has an exquisite way of sketching in tiny people, farms and groups of houses, or of leaving some animal - a goat or a bird - straying among the slaty blue of his rocks.