The Penitence of Saint Jerome

Artist: Joachim Patinir (Netherlandish, Dinant or Bouvignes, active by 1515–died 1524 Antwerp)

Date: ca. 1512–15

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: Shaped top: central panel, overall, with engaged frame, 46 1/4 x 32 in. (117.5 x 81.3 cm); each wing, overall, with engaged frame, 47 1/2 x 14 in. (120.7 x 35.6 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1936

Accession Number: 36.14a–c


Acknowledging Patinir’s leading role in a new genre, Albrecht Dürer referred to the artist in 1521 as the "good landscape painter." This intact altarpiece was probably a German commission, since its exterior wings show Sebald, patron saint of Nuremberg, and Saint Anne with the Virgin and Child. Following Netherlandish tradition, large-scale sacred figures dominate the foreground of the interior: Saint John baptizing Christ, Saint Jerome, and Saint Anthony the Hermit with the monsters that assailed him. The picture’s true subject, however, is the magnificent panoramic landscape, which the viewer is encouraged to travel through visually in the manner of a pilgrimage.