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Plaque

  • Place of origin:

    Germany (made)

  • Date:

    17th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Embossed and gilt copper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr W. L. Hildburgh FSA

  • Museum number:

    M.218-1929

  • Gallery location:

    Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 83, The Whiteley Galleries, case 1

St Jerome was one of the four Latin Fathers of the Church. He wrote a number of important works, including a translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Latin in the 4th century AD. He lived for many years as a hermit in the Syrian desert. He is said to have taken a thorn from a lion's paw causing the animal to become his loyal companion. In this plaque, Jerome is meditating over a book, perhaps one of his translations and contemplating a skull, the emblem of mortality.

Physical description

Rectangular embossed copper-gilt plaque showing a demi-figure of St Jerome leaning on his left hand and holding a cross and rosary with his right hand: in front, a skull and book.

Place of Origin

Germany (made)

Date

17th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Embossed and gilt copper

Marks and inscriptions

Unmarked

Dimensions

Height: 16.5 cm, Width: 13.5 cm

Historical context note

Saints and Symbols
Like most religions, Christianity has a rich language of images and symbols. This iconography would have been clearly understood in the past but it may be less familiar to modern eyes.

Though often decorative, the symbols used on religious metalwork also refer to the function and significance of the objects. The contemplation of religious motifs can draw believers into a deeper understanding of their faith. Complex theological themes can be represented in a visual form. A chalice, for example, might be adorned with the tools used in the Crucifixion (the 'Instruments of the Passion') to direct the viewer's mind towards Christ's sacrifice and his death on the cross.

The use of images has caused controversy throughout Christian history. While supporters held that imagery glorified God and helped believers understand their faith better, critics attacked its use as superstition and idolatry.

Saints
Christians venerate saints as men and women who, through the holiness of their lives, became especially close to God. The saints include martyrs who suffered and died for their faith as well as great teachers and preachers. Their lives provide an example and inspiration for the faithful. Roman Catholics also believe that saints can intercede on their behalf with God. In Christian iconography, saints are usually depicted with a distinctive object or 'attribute' associated with their martyrdom or works. For example, St Bartholomew, who was skinned alive, holds a flaying knife, and St George is shown with a dragon.

Descriptive line

Plaque of St Jerome, copper-gilt, Germany, seventeenth century.

Labels and date

Plaque Showing St Jerome
St Jerome (342-420) was one of the four eminent early theologians who were also known as the Doctors of the Church. He wrote a number of important works, including a translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Latin. He lived for many years as a hermit in the Syrian desert and is said to have taken a thorn from a lion's paw, causing the animal to become his loyal companion.

In this plaque, Jerome is meditating over a book, perhaps one of his translations and contemplating a skull, the emblem of mortality.

Germany, 1600-1700. Copper gilt
Museum no. M.218-1929. Hildburgh Gift []

Materials

Copper-gilt

Categories

Metalwork; Religion; Christianity

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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