Saint Jerome in His Study

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Albrecht Dürer, Saint Jerome in His Study, 1514
By ETHAN DOSKEY

Dürer expertly forms a stunningly life-like vignette of Saint Jerome in his study with his dog and lion in this single-point perspective. The step at the bottom, the pillar to the left, and the ceiling on the top creates the illusion of a frame that invites the viewer into the scene as if you were standing just outside the room. The accurate viewpoint evokes a sense of believability in the etching along with the shadows and projected light from the window. Above this, though, I am most impressed by the level of detail on such a small plate; the room comes alive from items that tell us more about the world in that time period.

In a historical sense, one can gather what technology and style people would have in Dürer's time because evidence suggests that, like classic Italian Renaissance artists, Dürer drew from the real world. He believed that, "no man can ever make a beautiful image out of his private imagination unless he have replenished his mind by much painting from life" (Four Books on Human Proportions). This philosophy becomes apparent in his etchings that obviously draw from real world models because of the precise dimensions and shading.

His attention to detail is astounding. The grain of the wood, the fur of the animals, St. Jerome's beard, Dürer's signature on the floor, the slippers behind the dog, the scissors on the wall, the crucifix on the table - impeccable. Considering the constraints and nature of the medium as well as the tools he would have used, Dürer proves even more impressive. Since he used print-making as his medium, his work was easily copied and distributable which drastically opened up his audience and making him the first celebrity artist.

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