By the early sixteenth century many Renaissance artists had experimented with printmaking, but Albrecht Dürer deserves credit for elevating the genre to the realm of fine art. Though Dürer executed numerous prints over the course of his career, he deemed only three worthy of the title “Master Engravings,” including this print of Saint Jerome.
Readily identifiable by his attribute— the lion—Saint Jerome appears at the back of the small room, immersed in transcribing a text. According to the Christian texts, Saint Jerome translated the Bible into Latin. A small crucifix, a reminder of Christ’s salvation for mankind, sits on the saint’s worktable. Its inclusion, together with the human skull, serves as a memento mori, prompting viewers to consider the state of their soul on Judgment Day.