Religious themes very particularly common during the Renaissance and it was at this time that most of the significant commissions would arrive from various religious bodies and institutions. Hieronymus Bosch was therefore very much in the norm in how he consistently used such topics to drive his work.
Hieronymus Bosch was also a fairly principled individual who would incorporate some of these moral thoughts and guidance into his work. Few can forget his depiction of Hell in The Garden of Earthly Delights, which was a warning to those who chose not to follow the right path.
This is one of several Hieronymus Bosch paintings to have been analysed through the technique of dendochronologicy. It was from this that a date of 1493 was confidently placed on the triptych, as was a clear confirmation that it was indeed from the hand of this great master.
The artwork has been in Vienna for the majority of its long life but did spend around 80 years in Austria as a result of their occupation and involvement in this famous city. It returned to Venice in 1919 and has remained there ever since, other than for the occasional exhibition around Europe. There is some clear damage to the painting, though little documentation to explain how it occured - most point to a fire as likely the cause.
The three anchorite saints included are Saint Jerome in the centre panel, St Anthony Abbot on the left and Saint Giles on the right. In most cases, the central panel of a triptych is considered the most important and in the case of the Hermit Saints Triptych we find Saint Jerome placed in a desert, praying in front of a crucifix.