Donatello, St. Jerome

St. Jerome

Donatello, St Jerome
mid-XV century, polychromatic wood, 141x35x26 cm, Inv. n. 168

This valuable wooden sculpture from the chapel of the Manfredi family in the Church dell’Osservanza, dedicated to St. Jerome since 1444.
The commissioning of the work can be traced to Astorgio II Manfredi, lord of the city of Faenza since 1443, hired by the Republic of Florence beginning in 1446.

This statue of St. Jerome can be dated to approximately 1454-1455.
Vasari, in the life of Donatello recalls that «in the city of Florence he worked on a St. John and a St. Jerome in wood».

The saint is depicted standing. His head, tilted slightly to the left, is characterised by a thick, greying hair that falls onto his chest, together with a long beard. He is holding a stone in his left hand and is using it to beat on his chest. The sculptor demonstrates extraordinary skill in detailing the veins protruding from under his skin. The stance of his limbs encourages the viewer not to observe the statue from the front, thanks to which the serpentine effect of the sculpture is enhanced.

The work is also characterised by an attempt to combine naturalness and expressionism in the saint’s face to exalt the mystical ideal of his ascetic lifestyle.

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