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Saint Jerome in Penitence
Lotto, Lorenzo
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Lotto, Lorenzo

Venice, 1480 - Loreto, Marche, 1556

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Saint Jerome in Penitence

1546. Oil on canvas. Room 042

Lorenzo Lotto`s various depictions of the penitent Saint Jerome span early versions influenced by Albrecht Dürer and Giovanni Bellini (Musée du Louvre, Paris, 1506) and by young Raphael (Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant`Angelo, Rome, c.1509), to his most personal interpretations from the 1540s. Lotto`s Libro dei Conti (Book of Accounts) lists four paintings between 1544 and 1546 with this subject; three of which have survived and are now at the Muzeu de Arta, Bucharest, the Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome, and the Museo del Prado, respectively.

Bernard Aikema identifies the latter work as the one begun on 24 July 1546 for Vincenzo Frizieri, for which Lotto received eight ducats. Along with Giovanni Maria Giuta, Lotto and Frizieri were governors of the Ospedale dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo, one of the four major centres of assistance founded by the Venetian government in 1527, which Lotto named as a beneficiary in his will on 25 March 1546. Frizieri commissioned this painting for the hospital chapel, and its pictorial austerity and emphasis on penitence and self-mortification perfectly reflect that institution`s religious ideals as one of the Catholic Reformation`s most dynamic centres in Venice.

The story of the penitent Saint Jerome derives from a letter he wrote to Eustache in 384 AD and became important in the fifteenth century, when it was used by spiritual movements that aspired to a close union with Christ through prayer. Jean Gerson (1363-1429), to whom the spiritual manual De Imitatione Christ (1418-27) is attributed, shared these concerns, and Lotto owned a copy of his book. The spiritual guidelines laid down therein were furthered by the Company of Divine Love (a movement which, with Jerome as its patron saint, cared for the incurably ill and worked closely with the Ospedale dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo) and the Barnabite Brothers of Saint Paul, for whom the contemplation of Christ`s Passion constituted the best antidote to carnal desires. They, too, collaborated with the hospital.

That setting explains the iconography of Saint Jerome in Penitence, c.1546, which is exceptional in that it does not show the saint striking his chest with a stone while contemplating the crucifix. Eschewing that customary depiction, Lotto shows him with arms extended, spiritually and physically imitating Christ on the cross. That supreme state of communion with Christ is alluded to in the text shown by the angel: NUNC LEGIT NUNC ORAT NUNC PECTORE CRIMINA PLORAT (Now he reads, now he prays, now he cries on his bosom for the sins committed).

In 1575 the Ospedale dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo was rebuilt and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. That may be when Saint Jerome in Penitence was sold; the work has been identified as the one that Venetian ambassador Hieronimo Lippomano gave to King Philip II in 1587. At that time, the painting was attributed to Titian, but when it entered El Escorial on 8 June 1593 it was again attributed to Lotto. Because mortification and prayer were central subjects of The Life of Saint Jerome, Doctor of the Holy Church (1595) by José de Sigüenza, an author closely linked to El Escorial, this location for the painting was very apt. The Museo del Prado received this work in 1819. A simplified version exists at the Galleri Doria Pamphilj, Rome (Falomir, M. en: Italian Masterpieces. From Spain`s Royal Court, Museo del Prado, 2014, p. 90).


Technical data

Inventory number
Lotto, Lorenzo
Saint Jerome in Penitence
Height: 99 cm.; Width: 90 cm.
Royal Collection

Bibliography +

Berenson, Bernard, The Venetian painters of the Renaissance: with an index to their works, G. P. Putnam's Sons, Nueva York Londres, 1894, pp. 115.

Berenson, B, Lorenzo Lotto. An essay in constructive art criticism, Londres Nueva York, 1895, pp. 279.

Lorenzetti, C., San Jerónimo, Sociedad editora de arte ilustrado, Madrid, 1924, pp. Lám. 21.

Zarco Cuevas, Julian, Los Jeronimos de San Lorenzo el Real de el Escorial, Monasterio de San Lorenzo, 1930, pp. 37.

Berenson, Bernard, Lorenzo Lotto, The Phaidon Press, 1956, pp. 121 / 343.

Coletti, L, Miscellanea Lottesca, Emporium, 62, 1956, pp. 147-163 [154].

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Mariani Canova, Giordana, L'opera completa del Lotto, Rizzoli, Milan, 1975, pp. 119 n. 242.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: pintura italiana anterior a 1600, Gredos, Madrid, 1979, pp. 191.

Caroli, Flavio, Lorenzo Lotto e la Nascita Della Psicologia Moderna, Gruppo Editoriale Fabbri, Milán, 1980, pp. 280.

Aikema, B, ' San Girolamo' En:, Il S. Girolamo di Lorenzo Lotto a Castel S. Angelo, Romana Società Editrice,, Roma, 1983, pp. 117-118.

Giammariolo, Di Mambro, 'San Girolamo' En:, Il S. Girolamo di Lorenzo Lotto a Castel S. Angelo, Romana Società Editrice,, Roma, 1983, pp. 112-115.

Aikema, B., Lorenzo Lotto and the Ospitale de San Zuane Polo. (Separata), Arsenale editrice, -, 1984.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 376.

Brown, Jonathan1939-, Las Colecciones del Rey. Pintura y Escultura, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 1986, pp. 103.

Aikema, B. Meyers, D, Nel regno dei poveri. Arte e stroria dei grandi ospedale veneziani di età moderna (1474-1797), Venecia, 1989, pp. 168-170.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Checa Cremades, Fernando, Felipe II: mecenas de las artes, Nerea, Madrid, 1992, pp. 432.

Aikema, B, Studi per Pietro Zampeti, Ancona, 1993, pp. 303-305.

Checa Cremades, Fernando, Tiziano y la monarquía hispánica: usos y funciones de la pintura veneciana en España (siglos XVI y XVII), Nerea, Madrid, 1994, pp. 312, n. 179.

Humfrey, Peter, Lorenzo Lotto., Yale University Press,, New Haven, Londres, 1997, pp. 153.

Cortesi Bosco, F, Autografi inediti di Lotto: il primo testamento (1531) e un codicilo (1533), Bergomum, 93, 1998, pp. 35 n.51.

Checa Cremades, F, Un príncipe del Renacimiento: Felipe II, un monarca y su ép..., Sociedad Estatal para la Commemoración de los cent..., Madrid, 1998, pp. 490-491.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Pintura italiana del Renacimiento: guía, Museo del Prado, Aldeasa, Madrid, 1999, pp. 132.

Suárez Quevedo, Diego, Tiziano y los venecianos en El Escorial. En: El Monasterio del Escorial pintura, Actas Simposium. Instituto escurialense de investigaciones historicas, San Lorezo Del Escorial, 2001, pp. 96-98 lám. 7.

Pirovano, Carlo, Lotto, Electa, 2002, pp. 187.

Suarez Quevedo, Diego, Sombras luces y penumbras en ambientaciones y figuraciones artísticas a fines del siglo XVI e inicios del XVII, Anales de Historia del arte, 13, 2003, pp. 163.

Lorenzo Lotto e le marche : per una geografia dell'anima : a..., Giunti, 2009, pp. 155-156.

Collareta, M, 'In spirito e veritá' En:, Lorenzo Lotto, Silvana, Roma, 2011, pp. 144-155 [146 f.7].

Oettinger, April, The lizard in the study: landscape and otium in Lorenzo Lotto's portrait of a young man (c.1530)., Artibus et historiae, 33, 2012, pp. 115-125 [119].

Humprey, Peter, A la sombra de Tiziano: Lorenzo Lotto y Bonifacio de 'Pitati' . En: Maestros en la sombra, Fundación Amigos Museo del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 45-60 [47,53].

García-Frías Checa, Carmen, 'De la grandeza y variedad de la pintura que hay en esta casa' La colección pictórica de Felipe II en El Monasterio de El Escorialo, De El Bosco a Tiziano: arte y maravilla en El Escorial, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 2013, pp. 35-51 [43].

Punzi, Vito, 'Il ritratto del vescovo Tommao Negri. Una traccia di Lorenzo Lotto in Dalmazia'. En:La ritrattistica di Lorenzo Lotto in area adriatica. Esempi e vicende, Edizioni Santa Casa,, Loreto, 2013, pp. 95-108 [100 f.4].

Coltrinari, Francesca, L' ultimo committente: Lorenzo Lotto per Gaspare de Dotti a Loreto' En: La ritrattistica di Lorenzo Lotto in area adriatica. Esempi e vicende., Edizioni Santa Casa,, Loreto, 2013, pp. 109-147 [118-121 f.2].

Falomir Faus, M., Lorenzo Lotto 'Penitent Saint Jerome' En:, Italian masterpieces from Spain's royal court, Museo del Prado, National Gallery of Victoria Thames & Hudson, 2014, pp. 90.

Coltrinari, Francesca, Artisti e committenti a Loreto (1538-1590): nuovi documenti, Edifir edizioni Firenze,, 2016, pp. 155-557.

Coltrinari, Francesca, Loreto cantiere artistico internazionale nell'età della Controriforma. I committenti, gli artisti, il constesto., Edizioni Edifir,, Firenze, 2016, pp. 155-157 f.34.

Cortesi Bosco, Francesca., Viaggio nell'ermetismo del Rinascimento: Lotto, Drer, Giorg..., Il Poligrafo,, 2016, pp. 431-506 n.86.

¡Hola Prado!: Two Collections in Dialogue, Michael Imhof Verlag,, 2017, pp. 28-9 n.2.

Poltronieri, R, 'Lorenzo Lotto. San Gerolamo', Lorenzo Lotto. Il richiamo delle Marche. luoghi, tempi e persone, Skira,, Milán, 2018, pp. 192-193 lám. VII.7.

Other inventories +

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 437.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 437.
Tiziano. / 437. San Geronimo en oracion. (E.) / Alto 3 pies, 6 pulg, 6 lin; ancho 3 pies, 2 pulg, 8 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 478.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 448.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 448.

Inscriptions +

Un San Jerónimo penitente figura media... / Cuadro procedente de la Real Casa de San Lorenzo. / Estuvo colocado en la Sala Prioral al nº 5 / Pintado por Tintoreto
Scrap of paper. Rear


Exhibitions +

Lorenzo Lotto. The Call of the Marche
19.10.2018 - 10.02.2019

¡Hola Prado! Two Collections in Dialogue
08.04.2017 - 20.08.2017

Italian Masterpieces from Spain's Royal Court. Museo Nacional del Prado
16.05.2014 - 31.08.2014

Location +

Room 042 (On Display)


Displayed objects +





Update date: 10-12-2020 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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