About This Artwork

Matteo di Giovanni
Italian, c. 1430-1495

The Dream of Saint Jerome, 1476

Tempera on panel
14 3/4 x 25 7/8 in. (37.4 x 65.7 cm); painted surface: 14 1/8 x 25 3/8 in. (35.8 x 64.4 cm)

Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1018

With the Art Institute’s Saint Augustine’s Vision and a Crucifixion scene, this panel formed the base, or predella, of an altarpiece commissioned from Matteo di Giovanni by the Placidi family in 1476. Its center, which depicts the Virgin and Child appearing to Saints Jerome and John the Baptist, remains in the church of San Domenico, Siena. The two small narrative panels in the Art Institute honor Saint Jerome as both a holy hermit and a learned father of the Church. Even after he retreated to the wilderness, Jerome took pleasure in reading the literature of pagan Rome; this scene depicts his dream that he is called before a heavenly judge for choosing pagan authors over the Bible. The painting’s impact is heightened by the combination of the expressive figures and intense color scheme with a rational architecture evoking the antique world that Jerome rejected.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

London, Burlington Fine Arts Club, Pictures of the School of Siena and Examples of the Minor Arts of That City, 1904, no. 38.

The Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress, 1934, no. 32.

New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Painting in Renaissance Siena, 1420–1500, December 20, 1988 – March 19, 1989, no. 49a.

London, National Gallery, Renaissance Siena: Art for a City, October 24, 2007 – January 13, 2008, no. 33.

Publication History

Bernard Berenson, The Central Italian Painters of the Renaissance, 2d ed. (New York and London, 1909), p. 194.

Gustav Friedrich Hartlaub, Matteo da Siena und seine Zeit (Strasbourg, 1910), pp. 117–18, 139.

J. A. Crowe and G. B. Cavalcaselle, A History of Painting in Italy, T. Borenius ed., 2d ed., vol. 5 (New York, 1914), p. 184 n. 2.

Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University: Collection of Mediaeval and Renaissance Paintings (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1919), p. 128.

Rose Mary Fischkin, “Two Paintings by Matteo di Giovanni,” Art Institute Bulletin 20 (1926), pp. 30–32, fig. 1.

Rose Mary Fischkin, “Martin A. Ryerson Collection of Paintings and Sculpture, XIII to XVIII Century, Loaned to The Art Institute of Chicago,” (unpub. MS, 1926, Ryerson Library, The Art Institute of Chicago), pp. 41–43.

Lionello Venturi, Pitture italiane in America (Milan, 1931), pl. CCXXVII.

Bernard Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance (Oxford, 1932), p. 350.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide to the Paintings in the Permanent Collection (Chicago, 1932), p. 181, no. 1686.25.

William R. Valentiner, Paintings in the Collection of Martin A. Ryerson, (unpub. MS, 1932, Archives, The Art Institute of Chicago), n. p.

M. Gengaro, “Matteo di Giovanni,” La Diana 9 (1934), pp. 166–68.

Bernard Berenson, Pitture italiane del Rinascimento (Milan, 1936), p. 301.

Raimond van Marle, The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting, vol. 16 (The Hague, 1937), pp. 342–43, ill.

George Kaftal, Saints in Italian Art: Iconography of the Saints in Tuscan Painting (Florence, 1952), pp. 256, 529, 532, ill.

Beatrice Wilczynski, “Matteo di Giovanni: Two Episodes from the Life of Saint Jerome,” Art Institute of Chicago Quarterly 50 (1956), pp. 74–76, ill.

Helen I. Roberts, “Saint Augustine in ‘St. Jerome’s Study’: Carpaccio’s Painting and Its Legendary Source,” Art Bulletin 41 (1959), p. 289.

John Pope-Hennessy, “A Crucifixion by Matteo di Giovanni,” Burlington Magazine 52 (1960), pp. 63–67, fig. 20.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in The Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Chicago, 1961), p. 306.

Hans Huth, “Italienische Kunstwerke im Art Institute von Chicago, USA,” in Miscellanea Bibliothecae Hertzianae (Munich, 1961), p. 517.

Franco Russoli, La raccolta Berenson (Milan, 1962), p. XLIX.

Bernard Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Florentine School vols. 1–2 (London, 1968), p. 258, pl. 813.

Sara Ekwall, “Ett ikonografiskt Birgittaproblem,” Konsthistorisk Tidskrijt 37 (1968), pp. 15–18.

Gustina Scaglia, “Fantasy Architecture of Roma antica,” Arte lombarda 15, 2 (1970), pp. 17–18.

T. Buddensieg, “Criticism of Ancient Architecture in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries,” in Robert Ralph Bolgar, ed., Classical Influences on European Culture, A.D. 1500–1700 (Cambridge, England, 1971), p. 338 n. 5.

Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1972), pp. 139, 376, 408.

Denys Sutton, “Robert Langton Douglas: An Annus Mirabilis,” Apollo 59 (1979), p. 304, fig. 20.

Fredricka Herman Jacobs, “Carpaccio’s Vision of S. Augustine and S. Augustine’s Theories of Music,” Studies in Iconography 6 (1980), p. 83 n. 4.

Erica Trimpi, “Iohannem Baptistam Heironymo aequalem et non maiorem: A Predella for Matteo di Giovanni’s Placidi Altarpiece,” Burlington Magazine 125 (1983), pp. 457–66, fig. 4.

Edwin Hall and Horst Uhr, “Aureola super Auream: Crowns and Related Symbols of Special Distinction for Saints in Late Gothic and Renaissance Iconography,” Art Bulletin 67 (1985), p. 578.

Erica Trimpi, “A Re-attribution and Another Possible Addition to Matteo di Giovanni’s Placidi Altarpiece,” Burlington Magazine 127 (1985), pp. 363–67, fig. 27.

John Pope-Hennessy, “Whose Flagellation?” Apollo 124 (1986), pp. 163–65, ill.

Michael Mallory and Gordon Moran, review of Painting in Renaissance Siena, 1420–1500 by K. Christiansen, L. B. Kanter, and C. B. Strehlke, in Art Journal 48 (Winter 1989), p. 354.

Piero Torriti, La Pinacoteca nazionale di Siena: i dipinti (Genoa, 1990), p. 260.

John Pope-Hennessy, Learning to Look (New York, 1991), p. 293.

Peter Anselm Riedl and Max Seidel, Die Kirchen von Siena, vol. 2, pt. 1, 2 (1992), pp. 620–22.

Christopher Lloyd, Italian Paintings before 1600 in The Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Collection (Chicago, 1993), pp. 151–58, ill.

Carlo Ginzburg, The Enigma of Piero: Piero della Francesca (London, 2000), p. 94 n. 41.

Dóra Sallay, “Nuove considerazioni su due tavole d’altare di Matteo di Giovanni: La struttura della pala Placidi di San Domenico e della pala degli Innocenti di Sant’Agostino a Siena,” Prospettiva 112 (2003), p. 89 n. 4.

Alain Erlande-Brandenburg et. al., Les cassoni peints du Musée national de la Renaissance (Paris, 2004), p. 30, fig. 8.

Alison Wright, The Pollaiuolo Brothers: The Arts of Florence and Rome (New Haven, 2005), p. 418.

Edward J. Olszewski, “Bring on the Clones: Pollaiuolo’s Battle of Ten Nude Men,” Artibus et Historiae 30, 6 (2009), p. 18, fig. 8.

Mariarosa Cortesi, Leggere I padre tra passato e presente (Florence, 2010), p. 167.

Gabriele Fattorini, “Matteo di Giovanni’s ‘St. Jerome’ for the notaries’ Guild of Siena,” Burlington Magazine 154 (2012), p. 472, ill.

Gabriele Fattorini in Carl Brandon Strehlke and Machtelt Brüggen Israëls, The Bernard and Mary Berenson Collection of European Paintings at I Tatti (Milan, 2015), pp. 433, 436, 437.

Ownership History

Placidi altarpiece, Chapel of Saint Jerome, Church of San Domenico, Siena, from 1476 until the dismemberment of the altarpiece sometime between 1784 and 1803 [Trimpi 1983 identified this painting, 1933.1019, and The Crucifixion, now in a private collection, as from the predella of the altarpiece on the basis of Mons. Francesco Bossio, Visita apostolica (1575), Siena, Archivio Arcivescovile, MS. 21, fol. 678r–678v, and an August 23, 1803 inventory of pictures from San Domenico in the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena, Archivio di Stato Biccherna 1089, fol. 459r–460v]. Possibly removed to Palazzo Pubblico, Siena, by 1803 [according to Trimpi 1983, who cites the inventory referenced above]. Adelbert Wellington, third Earl Brownlow (d. 1921), Ashridge Park, Berkhamsted, by 1904 [according to the London 1904 exhibition catalogue], sold as a pair with 1933.1019, Christie’s London, May 4, 1923, no. 26 (ill.), as Benvenuto di Giovanni, to Colnaghi for £850 [according to an annotated copy of the sale catalogue at Christie’s, London]; sold by Colnaghi to Martin A. Ryerson (d. 1932), Chicago, 1925 [according to Colnaghi’s invoice, Ryerson papers, Art Institute archives]; on loan to the Art Institute from 1925; bequeathed to the Art Institute, 1933.

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