St. Jerome

Painted wood sculpture of a nude Saint Jerome striking his chest with a stone.

Probably Donatello (ca. 1386–1466) and Bertoldo di Giovanni (ca. 1440–1491)
St. Jerome, ca. 1465–66
Wood, gesso, and paint
57 7/8 × 13 3/4 × 10 1/4 in. (147 × 35 × 26 cm)
Pinacoteca Comunale, Faenza (168)
Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali, Opificio delle Pietre Dure di Firenze

This sculpture was probably intended for display in an elevated niche, the figure supporting a cross and with a garment covering his genitals. When viewed from below, the blood drawn from beating the stone against his chest would have been more visible. Although the sculpture has been attributed to Donatello since the sixteenth century, scholars beginning in the late nineteenth century have expressed doubts about its authorship. The physical makeup (composed of wood and heavily modeled in gesso) and certain aspects of the sculpture's form are similar to sculptures by Donatello. The pose, however, and other details are similar to sculptures by Bertoldo, such as the Supplicant (also included in the exhibition). Donatello — who had ties to the city of Faenza, where the sculpture has been since its creation — may have begun the sculpture toward the end of his life and left it to Bertoldo to execute. This seems to have also occurred in other works, like Donatello's bronze pulpits for San Lorenzo, Florence.