Pietro Fetti (1588-1623)
16th century, Oil on canvas
The work, which prophesies the Baroque style, was created by Pietro Fetti from Emilia (active in the second half of the 16th century), father of the more famous Domenico Fetti (1589-1623), with whom he worked first in Rome and then in Mantua, following the scion's appointment as court painter to Duke Ferdinando Gonzaga. The theme of Saint Jerome, treated in this work, is one of the most frequent in Counter-Reformation painting. According to tradition, the Saint, depicted in a soft style characteristic of many 16th century mannerist artists, is presented in a red cardinal's habit and accompanied by a skull, symbolically alluding to penitence. Above the skull rests the Vulgate, that is the first complete Latin translation of the Bible from the ancient Greek and Hebrew versions, made at the end of the 4th century by Jerome himself.