(German, active Würzburg, c. 1460–1531)
Alabaster, traces of polychromy
Overall: 37.8 x 28.1 x 15.9 cm (14 7/8 x 11 1/16 x 6 1/4 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 1946.82
In the story Saint Jerome encounters a fearsome lion, here depicted as diminutive, gentle, and submissive.
According to legend, Saint Jerome (347–420 bce) lived in the desert, where he removed a thorn from an injured lion. Jerome is venerated in the Catholic Church as a Church Father, an important early author of Christianity. Here, he wears cardinal’s clothing from around 1500.
Tilman Riemenschneider focused on Jerome’s relationship with the lion, creating empathy for the wounded animal. The delicacy of the depiction, which may have been partially painted to add highlights, is typical of alabaster, as is its fine polishing. The cord of the cardinal’s hat, missing today, may have been supplemented from another material.
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