A New Source for Andrea del Castagno’s Vision of St. Jerome
Comitatus Vol.29 (1998)
The extraordinary imagery of Andrea del Castagno’s Vision of St. Jerome has never been completely explained. Painted for the chapel of Girolamo Corboli in Santissima Annunziata in Florence, the fresco altarpiece is traditionally dated to about 1454–1455. The saint, nearly nude in his torn gown, stands with one hand clutching the bloody stone with which he has been beating his breast in an act of penitence. His arms flung wide from his body, he seems to have been stopped in his act of self-flagellation by the vision above his head: a severely foreshortened crucified Christ supported by God the Father, under whose chin floats the dove of the Holy Spirit. The members of the Trinity shown in this manner form the Gnadenstuhl, the Throne of Mercy. Even the lion beside him seems to share in St. Jerome’s experience. Its head thrown back at the same angle, its mouth is opened in an outcry that in its animalistic response suggests less an understanding of the vision above than a reflexive imitation of its master’s transported state.