St Jerome was a Christian theologian and scholar, who is best known for translating the Bible into the popular spoken and written Latin of his day (hence, the ‘vulgate'). For a while Jerome sought ascetic penance in the Syrian desert, which is the setting for Legros' painting. He is shown enduring the rigours of his retreat: seated on a rock at dusk, praying in a loincloth, his only other possessions a Bible, a crucifix, a flail for self-flagellation and a skull. His eyes are turned heavenwards and his body is a study in humility. The semi-naked torso and classicising drapery render him statuesque. Alphonse Legros was a talented and meticulous draughtsman, etcher, painter and sculptor. He worked for a while on decorative schemes, before joining the studio of Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran (1802-1897). In 1855 he enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris and made his Salon debut in 1857. He lived in England from 1863 to 1905, becoming naturalised as a British citizen in 1880. In 1876 he succeeded Edward John Poynter (1836-1919) as Professor at the Slade School of Fine Art, London. Teaching at the Slade was based on drawing from life models, following the French academic tradition. Legros, an expert himself, was an enthusiastic advocate of this practice.
unframed: 176.4cm x 107.6cm
Frame: 213cm x 144.5cm
Place of creation
Transferred from the Royal Manchester Institution.
© Manchester Art Gallery