St Jerome in his study

St Jerome in his study


St Jerome in his study

[Cat. Mainz 1999, No. 2]

St Jerome in his cell

[Cat. Mainz 1889, No. 313]

Jerome as cardinal in his study

[Parthey 1861/64, 410]

Painting on spruce wood


Painting on spruce wood

[Cat. Mainz 1999, No. 2]

St Jerome's study is a spartanly furnished room with a wooden barrel vault. There is a crown glass window in both the left and back walls; the latter offers a limited view of a landscape. [...] The scholar sits at a desk positioned obliquely in the room. Various work utensils

St Jerome's study is a spartanly furnished room with a wooden barrel vault. There is a crown glass window in both the left and back walls; the latter offers a limited view of a landscape. [...] The scholar sits at a desk positioned obliquely in the room. Various work utensils are on the desk: his writing implements, an open book on a lectern as well as other beautifully bound books. At the far right there is a crucifix with stones and bones at the foot of the cross. The electoral coat of arms (black and silver divided field with two crossed red swords) hangs on a six-armed candle stick behind the saint.

[Cat. Mainz 1999, No. 2]

Workshop Lucas Cranach the Elder
Lucas Cranach the Elder


Workshop Lucas Cranach the Elder

[Cat. Mainz 1999, No. 2]

Lucas Cranach the Elder

[Cat. Mainz 1876, No. 292]
[Cat. Mainz 1917, No. 304]

Johann van Eyck

[Cat. Mainz 1845, No. 29]
[Parthey 1861/64, 410]

Production dates
about 1520
about 1525

Production dates

about 1520

[Cat. Mainz 1999, No. 2]

about 1525

[letter by Christoph Emmendörffer, Augsburg, 17.06.1998]

Dimension of support: 120 x 102 x 0.4 cm


  • Dimension of support: 120 x 102 x 0.4 cm

  • Dimensions including frame: 127.2 x 102.7 x 5 cm

  • [Landesmuseum Mainz, revised 2016]

Signature / Dating


Landeshauptstadt Mainz
Landesmuseum Mainz
FR (1978) Nr.
Persistent Link


1841 bequest of Martin von Metzler
[Cat. Mainz 1999, No. 2]


Reference on page Catalogue Number Figure / Plate
Cat. Mainz 1999 24-29 2
AuthorSusanne Kern
TitleDeutsche Malerei des 15. und 16. Jahrhunderts im Landesmuseum Mainz. Ausgewählte Werke
SeriesMuseum im Taschenformat
Place of PublicationMainz
Year of Publication1999
Sandner 1998 B 85
AuthorIngo Sandner
TitleCranach als Zeichner auf dem Malgrund
Publicationin Ingo Sandner, Wartburg-Stiftung Eisenach and Fachhochschule Köln, eds., Unsichtbare Meisterzeichnungen auf dem Malgrund. Cranach und seine Zeitgenossen, Exhib. Cat. Eisenach
Place of PublicationRegensburg
Year of Publication1998
Cat. Mainz 1924
AuthorErnst Neeb, Karl Schumacher
TitleKurzer Führer durch die Sammlungen im Kurfürstlichen Schloß zu Mainz
Place of PublicationMainz
Year of Publication1924
Cat. Mainz 1917 304
TitleVerzeichnis der Gemälde-Sammlung der Stadt Mainz
Place of PublicationMainz
Issue12th edition
Year of Publication1917
Flechsig 1900 A 172 p. 173
AuthorEduard Flechsig
Place of PublicationLeipzig
Year of Publication1900
Link page/n5/mode/2up
Cat. Mainz 1889
TitleVerzeichniss der Gemälde in der städtischen Gallerie zu Mainz
Place of PublicationMainz
Issue2nd edition
Year of Publication1889
Cat. Mainz 1881
AuthorCarl Hellermann
TitleMuseum der Stadt Mainz. Führer durch die Sammlungen im ehem. kurfürstlichen Schlosse
Place of PublicationMainz
Year of Publication1881
Cat. Mainz 1876 292
TitleMuseum der Stadt Mainz. Verzeichniss der Sammlungen
Place of PublicationMainz
Year of Publication1876
Cat. Mainz 1863
TitleFührer in dem Museum der Stadt Mainz
Place of PublicationMainz
Year of Publication1863
Parthey 1863 415
AuthorGustav Parthey
TitleDeutscher Bildersaal: Verzeichniss der in Deutschland vorhandenen Oelbilder verstorbener Maler aller Schulen; in alphabetischer Folge zusammengestellt. Erster Band: A - K
Place of PublicationBerlin
Year of Publication1863
Cat. Mainz 1845 29
AuthorJohann Wirth
TitleKatalog des Museums der Stadt Mainz
Place of PublicationMainz
Year of Publication1845
Müller 1834
AuthorNikolaus Müller
TitleTaxiertes Verzeichnis der Städtischen Gemäldesammlung in Mainz im Stande von 1834 [Stadtarchiv Mainz, 7075726, Nr. 48, Manuskript]
Year of Publication1834

Research History / Discussion

The electoral coat of arms hangs beneath the candlestick and as Cranach was the electoral court painter this fact supports the theory that the panel was produced in the Cranach workshop.

Jerome is not shown here as a humanist scholar, but rather taming a fearsome beast, metaphorically speaking as a peace maker. For this reason the panel may have been a gift from a member of the electoral court to a person who had acted in peaceful negotiations or should be prompted to do so.

The spatial composition is focused on the top left section where the coat of arms is positioned and the whole is conceived to be viewed from below. It would seem therefore that the panel was originally positioned on the left wing of an altar.

[Manuela Fürstenau, Landesmuseum Mainz, Dezember 2016]

Inventory of the Metzler Collection, 01.05.1841, Stadtarchiv Mainz, NL M. v. Metzler 679, 1:

'Nr. 115 In einem Zimmer sitzt der heilige Hieronymus und zieht einem Löwen einen Stachel aus der Datze, geschätzt 1200 Gulden'

[Landesmuseum Mainz, revised 2016]

  • St Jerome in his study, about 1520


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Technical studies

12. 2016Technical examination / Scientific analysis


- spruce wood with visible knots

- 7 planks vertically alligned in the direction of the grain

Ground and Imprimatura

- the ground was applied in two layers and carefully smoothed

- the ground is only clearly visible at the top edge. The other edges are covered by the frame. The painting is in a fragile state and cannot be removed from the frame (Dec. 2016).

- a semi-transparent, very thin and light coloured imprimatura appears to have been applied to the entire surface (visible on the big toe of Christ and at the left beside the upper beam of the cross).

Paint Layers and Gilding

The surface of the paint layers is smooth and has an enamel-like quality. Some impasto to accent highlights and contour lines is visible in raking light. A further exception to this smooth finish is evident in the floor tiles. Here the surface does not correspond with the brushstroke of the underlying layer. The very thin paint application has become more transparent with age, making the underdrawing partially visible to the naked eye. Less important motifs have been rationalized to a very thin paint application.

The flesh paint was executed first, followed by the red coat and hat, sleeves and shirt. Then the section with the crucifix and the desk was executed and subsequently the candlestick. The background was completed with the stone wall, which overlaps all neighbouring colour fields. The cord and the lion were painted last as single painted hairs from the fur were applied over the flesh paint of Jerome's hands and the background.

Flesh paint

Jerome's face was initially blocked in with thin, opaque pink flesh paint (red-white admixture). Over this highlights and shadows were added with thin glazes to modulate the face. These are partially lost due to overcleaning. The upper and lower eyelids were shaped with a light, opaque ochre tone, and the eyeball was painted with lead white. Then a thin transparent light red line was applied over the left eye bag, enlivening the eye. A whitish grey glaze was applied between the lead white of the eyeball and the red glaze to draw them together. [...] details like eyelashes were then added wet-in-wet in black paint with a fine pointed brush. Abrasion has altered the original compact appearance of the face, which is now slightly transparent. This porcelain-like character is further reinforced by the transparency of the thin, light paint layers caused by ageing. The binding medium (probably an oil-varnish) of the fine light grey hair on the beard remained resistant to the cleaning unlike the light glazes and does not have a tendency to yellow. Skillfully applied short fine deep pink lines were added to the delicate glazes on the mouth and a dark brown line, defining where the lips part (probably brown madder), gives them a sensuous and lively appearance.

Flesh paint (hands)

The shape of the fingers was modulated with very thin light and dark glazes over the underlayer of the flesh paint, now semi-transparent (underdrawing faintly visible). The nails were executed with a thin white layer and a fine brown line was drawn at with confidence at the top to create the volume of the finger and may also represent dirt. A fine line (0.4 - 0,5 mm) drawn in brown paint with a broad quill reinforces the contours and emphasizes the volume of the fingers.


St Jerome's gown was initially laid in with a thin layer of red vermillion underpaint, while the white areas were held in reserve. Areas of shadow were added with a red-black admixture and finally volume and the arrangement of the folds were represented with a red-lead white admixture applied with a broad brush. The brushstrokes are visible when inspected close up. Light and dark areas were blended when dry with a midtone and highlights were achieved by removing paint. Once dry a thin semi-transparent red glaze (madder or other red lake) was applied and removed from the red highlights. Finally the shadows on the gown and hat were glazed with two dark reddish to black layers.

To set the gown in a spatial context, while lending it more volume some of the folds and in particular the outer contours were reinforced with light and dark red contours depending on light and shadow. Once completed the light sleeves and shirt were painted (base tone, shadow, highlights and midtone). Finally the red cord with the tassels was added in an unconstrained, confident manner, its light and dark nuances flaring up variously. Some rogue strokes are visible at the beginning of the cord as well as on the ochre background.

The Crucifix

opaque pink coloured flesh paint (red-white admixture) was rapidly applied to the semi-transparent flesh coloured imprimatura. Highlights and shadows were blended with thin whitish-grey or dark tones. The highlight on the nose was created with an opaque white. The nails and crown were also applied in opaque paint. The paint application on the face is unusual: the lower lip was painted with a very thin glaze and fine highlights. The inner contours of the open mouth were drawn with an extra fine, precise madder line, suggesting the use of a quill. Together with the yellow ochre beard and the spots of blood the impression created by this area is very colourful.


The lion was laid in with a Siena tone. The snout and the shape of the eyes were executed with opaque lead white in a simplistic, seemingly awkward manner. The detailed finish of the snout followed wet-in-wet in white and grey. Inside the white boarder around the eye the eyeball was painted with opaque ochre and outlined with a black contour. A black iris with a white contour was added. Fine brown lines were applied to the iris and highlights were achieved with white impasto.

Although the execution of the eye is rather awkward, the use of different binding media and the variation of brush widths used for the fur are very convincing. The difference in quality may suggest the participation of two different workshop members. The tail was laid in with two quick drying layers of Siena over which brown paint was stippled. Here a very time saving and economic method was employed that conveys a realistic impression, particularly from a distance. The same technique can be observed in the execution of the stones beneath the crucifix. Single fine hairs were added to the fur after the contours of the fingers and the white-light grey paint of the stones.


In the fifties the panel was fitted in a new frame. The former frame was from the ninteenth century.

  • examined by Manuela Fürstenau

1998Technical examination / Scientific analysis

  • Infrared photography


Infrared photography carried out with NIR 1000

The central motif, the head of St Jerome, was transferred to the light ground with a lead pencil (0.1mm). A delicate, lead coloured, firm and hard line, running to the left of the face from the forehead over the cheek to the chin can be recognized as such a traced line. It was not drawn in one continuous action but rather repeatedly restarted. In a second stage the lines of this initial design were reinforced freehand with a brush and diluted black paint. At the height of the left cheek the contour of the eye was shifted further in, however this was not considered in the painted version.

The third stage followed with short, freehand half and double strokes that indicated details within forms and may have fullfilled two functions: they may have served to indicate areas of shadow or to define contours like for example the upper lip. Such an underdrawing with traced lines was not found in other areas of the painting. Only a relatively binding freehand schematic underdrawing executed with a brush like that of the second stage could be detected. This is often visible to the naked eye.

The underdrawing for the crucifix is quite different in execution. The lines were executed in a quick and lively manner after a pre-existing design with a brush and diluted ink. A pattern of a corresponding size and perspective was probably not available. It would have taken longer and cost more to create one. The artist evidently attempted to correct anatomical inconsistencies directly on the panel (see feet, position of the nipples, wound on the thigh).

A second reworking executed with slightly more pressure gave further clarification and was applied with darker paint in short half strokes in the area of the knee, the upper calf, on the beard as well as long lines in the loincloth.

It is not possible to establish whether this second reworking was carried out by a further person, but it cannot be excluded. Evidently the form of the loincloth in the underdrawing was changed to another type in the painted version: the knot on the right side was initially tied very tight as indicated by the three parallel lines and was then altered to a looser version, showing the fabric hanging down in curves.

The arrangement of the folds was changed in the painted version by shortening and softening the points at the left and right. The INRI-sign is position at the vanishing-point, the bottom end of the shield was corrected accordingly. The outer contours of the lion were shifted further up at the tail end and the left eye was shifted further out towards the cheek. The lion’s coat was summarily indicated around his mouth with short, half strokes - wreath-like – and reflects the efficient working method.

The detailed underdrawing of the lion’s claws is not visible in the painted version. It is unlikely that these details were removed by overcleaning. In areas of abrasion elsewhere on the painting traces of paint are still visible. Maybe they were just forgotten or it was decided to represent a more placid lion. Either way this discrepancy between the underdrawing and the final painted version supports the argument that the painting was completed in cooperation with a second artist.

The folds of the left sleeve are not very accurate, and are only indicated by fleeing brushstrokes applied one after the other with hooked or semi-circular ends. This is an abbreviated form commonly found in the Cranach workshop.

  • examined by Manuela Fürstenau

Condition Reports

There are wooden additions at the top and bottom on the right side of the panel, as well as the top left corner. Numerous splits in the wood have caused cracking and losses in the paint layers. The damage at the centre of the cardinal's robe is particularly acute. From the left arm to the window at the top edge of the painting there are numerous small splits, about 32 cm in length. From the left shoulder to the top edge there is a 50 cm split. Further splits with a total length of 33 cm are evident in the bottom right section of the painting (lectern, desk and the bottom part of the Christ's loincloth) as well as the bottom left section (from the tail end to the raised paw of the lion). In the background, between St Jerome and the lion there are numerous small splits, c. 4 cm in length, extending to the edge of the panel. These areas of damage, and occasionally the joins, exhibit small to more extensive retouches that are to some extent discoloured. Over the entire surface small knots of c. 3-5 mm mark the surface. Despite this damage the paint layers are in good condition, for example St Jerome's flesh paint.

The reverse, which is cradled with a batten and block system, was unevenly thinned. It exhibits saw marks and old woodworm damage as well as old and newer fills. The entire surface is covered with a white fill-like coating. The panel was probably last restored in the fifties or sixties.

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