Artibus et Historiae no. 80 (XL)2019, ISSN 0391-9064
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LUCIA CORRAIN - At the Entry to the Image. Lorenzo Lotto and the Saint Jerome in Penitence in Sibiu (pp. 147–159)
Why is a life-size grasshopper placed so prominently in a painting by Lorenzo Lotto representing Saint Jerome in Penitence? That is the question that this study will try to answer.
In the course of his career the Venetian painter produced a number of works representing Saint Jerome by himself. The present example, now in Sibiu in Romania and datable to about 1513/1515, clearly belongs to the series depicting the saint of Stridone, but differs from the others in the prominent display of the grasshopper. Furthermore, the creature presents itself to the viewer on a scale and from a viewpoint quite different to that of the rest of the painting; and in its position at the aesthetic entry to the image, it serves to connect the external world of reality with the internal world of the image.
All this creates a dialogue between the saint and the artist, Jerome and Lotto. Both are ‘translators’: one of words, and the other of the image; both are in search of a life turned towards God. And in the painting, the grasshopper, which carries no negative connotation, is closely related to the crucifix that the penitent holds in his left hand.