St Jerome in the Desert Giovanni Bellini Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Giovanni Bellini’s St Jerome in the Desert is considered as one of his earliest works that have survived to this day.

This painting that has been considered as old as 1450 has some subtle lighting effects. This is a painting that shows St Jerome who was a bible scholar living a life of seclusion in the desert. St Jerome in the Desert was painted using oil on panel painting technique. This 151.7 x 113.7 cm painting is found in the Uffizi gallery museum whose location is in Florence in the Bellini Room.

This is part of Contini Bonacossi collections, a thing that gave rise to the alternate name of The Contini Bonacossi St. Jerome. The artwork shows great detail in the way Bellini did his work as he accomplished a fusion between the landscape and the deer, and the great wealth of other symbolic meanings, like the pair of deer chasing each other.

St Jerome in the Desert shows a reasonable depth as Bellini paints Venetian buildings in the background, something he copied in his travels. This is one of the things that prove that the artist used architecture in his paintings. It is not hard to spot the Ravenna-type belfry at the background. There are other buildings that are clearly evident in St Jerome in the Desert like San Vitale church, the Theodoric Mausoleum in Ravenna, the famous Tiberius bridge found in Rimini, and Sant’Anastasia’s bell tower in Verona.

It is not clear what the original destination of St Jerome in the Desert was. This work gives an idea of what transpired when Jerome removed a thorn from a lion’s paw. On seeing how helpful he was to him, the lion became Jerome’s only companion in the desert. The painting shows the sunlit landscape that does not hide the comfortable life that Jerome had to forsake.

There was a need for Jerome to forsake this so as to gain a better future. It is worth noting that Giovanni Bellini is the one who motivated the Venetian painting, making it a reality. In this work, there is an apparent introduction of a glowing use of color as well as an intimate feeling for landscape. Looking at Giovanni Bellini’s St Jerome in the Desert gives the feeling of what life in the desert feels like. There is a feeling that the viewer is in the desert.