In this rare and extraordinary drawing St Jerome is depicted near a rocky arch, holding a large stone with both hands, kneeling in front of a crucifix which appears to be almost sheltered by a draped cloth. In the background is a mountainous landscape surrounding a lake.
The attribution to Sodoma, inscribed in pen and ink at the bottom of the sheet, is most probably in a 16th century hand. The drawing does not seem to relate to any known composition by Sodoma, but the execution is quite typical of his style. Although all the contours are characterized by the subtle and lively use of pen and brown ink which already confers a certain personality on the work, most of the shadowing and building up of shapes and volumes is done with the point of the brush and thin lines of gray ink, used in the same way that the artist would use black chalk. The landscape in the background is built up with the same use of the brush, delicate and subtle, and creating a contrast with the strong use of gray wash which defines the rocky arch, making it a substantial divider between the foreground with the devotional image of St Jerome praying, and the background with its serene and peaceful outlook. The strong, structural, use of wash is something that is found in quite a number of Sodoma's drawings, including The resurrection of Christ in the Uffizi (inv. no. 567E, Inventario 1. Disegni di Figure, Verona 1986, reproduced). A black chalk drawing by the artist of St. Jerome Kneeling, seen from the front, in the Uffizi, is also in many ways comparable with the present work (photo Gernsheim).
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