St Jerome in his study

The National Gallery in London has two of my favourite paintings, both depicting the same scene: St Jerome in his study, rendering the Bible into Latin. The painting by Vincenzo Catena [c. 1480–1531] is probably my favourite of the two, depicted in figure 1, the other by Antonello da Messina [c. 1430 –  1479] as depicted in figure 2

n-0694-00-000015-wpu
Figure 1. St Jerome in his Study, Vincenzo Catena. Taken from the National Gallery UK. This work is in the public domain.

I’m not religious in the traditional sense but find many parallels between science and religion, not least the hooks that can really focus the mind and influence our emotions. On that, the aspect that appeals to me most in both of these paintings is the purposeful solitude Jerome finds himself in. Determined with a task, he ploughs on. Ok, there is the lion as a distraction, but still, we get the gist. I guess these days there would be the warm fuzzy glow of the smartphone or the humming coffee machine, but I suspect Jerome would still be focused at the task in hand. Would you?

 

800px-antonello_da_messina_-_st_jerome_in_his_study_-_national_gallery_london
Figure 2. Saint Jerome in his Study by Antonello da Messina. Picture taken from the National Gallery, UK. This picture is in the public domain.

Depending on what mood I’m in when looking at either print, I wonder whether he was stuck in a rut or deep in clear thought. Jerome is translating Bible into Latin. A task that would require slow careful thought, and adequate breaks! Pick from any number of portraits depicting our scientific idols locked in thought. It needn’t be Jerome or any specific discipline. Personally, however, I admire watching Jerome. For all intense purposes he could quite easily be ‘alive’ in the frame and simply not moving.

The act of studying, working or researching does have an artistic quality. Still life perhaps, but the process at work in the mind of the subject is the important feature.

Adding to all of this is choice of surroundings. Where is your favourite place to work? Does it vary according to the task to be carried out? I’ve started doing that, as covered in a previous post. I’d love to hear opinions on other works that similarly depict the art of study.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s