About This Artwork

Giorgio Vasari
Italian, 1511-1574

The Temptation of Saint Jerome, 1541/48

Oil on panel
65 1/2 x 48 in. (166.5 x 121.9 cm)

Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection, 1964.64

Best known for his Lives of the Artists, a monumental compendium of biographies, Giorgio Vasari was a successful architect and a prolific painter for the Medici dukes of Florence. As a learned artist, he imparted an allegorical element to this frequently depicted episode from the life of Saint Jerome. The saint—a scholar, translator of the Bible, and advocate of monasticism—vividly described the tempting visions that assailed him when he retreated to the desert to meditate. In this painting, Jerome contemplates a crucifix; his visions are personified as Venus, the goddess of love, accompanied by cupids. Although Venus seems to flee, one of the troublesome cupids still aims his arrow at the saint. The work is unfinished: the black-chalk grid, used as aid in enlarging and transferring the preparatory drawing onto the panel, is still visible through the initial thinly applied paint layers.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

University of Notre Dame, Indiana, Art Gallery, The Age of Vasari, 1970, no. P18.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Bill Viola: A 25-Year Survey, October 16, 1999 – January 9, 2000, included in the gallery that held Viola’s The Greeting for the Chicago venue.

Publication History

John Maxon, The Art Institute of Chicago, London, 1970, p. 254.

C. Monbeig-Goguel, "Giorgio Vasari et son temps," Revue de l'art no. 14 (1971), p. 108.

Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Cambridge, MA, 1972, pp. 209, 409, 571.

Emmanuel Bénézit, Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs, et graveurs de tous les temps et de tous les pays, 3d ed., vol. 10, 1976, p. 404.

Dizionario enciclopedico Bolaffi dei pittori e degli incisori italiani, dall' XI al XX secolo, vol. 11, Turin, 1976, p. 258.

A.M. Bracciante, Giorgio Vasari, exh. cat., Arezzo, Casa Vasari, 1981, sec. 4, p. 80, under no. 11.

D. Clark, "Vasari's Temptation of St. Jerome Paintings: Artifacts of his Camaldoli Crisis," Studies in Iconography 10 (1984-86), pp. 102, 106, 108, 110, 112, 115, n. 25, 117, n. 48, fig. 2 (mislabeled).

C.M. Brown, "'Verzeichnis etlicher Antiquitäten, so von Herrn Kardinal von Trient überschickt worden': Paintings and Antiquities from the Roman Collection of Bishop Gerolamo Garimberto Offered to Duke Albrecht Vth of Bavaria in 1576, " Xenia 10 (1985), pp. 60, 64, 69-70 n. 18.

L. Corti, Vasari: Catalogo completo dei dipinti, Florence, 1989, p. 38, under no. 21.

Christopher Lloyd, Italian Paintings before 1600 in the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 1993, pp. 262-267 (ill.).

Umberto Baldini, Giorgio Vasari, Florence, 1994, p. 162.

Ownership History

Miss M. M. Webber until 1963; sold Sotheby’s, London, July 3, 1963, no. 89 (ill.) to Patch for £3800 [according to letter of October 10, 2000, from Camilla Harris, Sotheby’s, who also identified Patch as Weitzner]; Julius Weitzner, London; purchased by the Art Institute through Charles H. and Mary F.S. Worcester Collection Fund, 1964

View mobile website