Sunday, May 31, 2015

Cats in Art: St. Jerome Penitent in the Wilderness (Durer)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. I am using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi. This is the final of 3 posts on the art of Albrecht Durer.

Image credit Albrecht-Durer site,  St. Jerome Penitent in the Wilderness, Albrecht Durer, 1496, engraving on laid paper, 12" x 9", held by Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Here we see the same faithful very large kitty as last week, close by St. Jerome's side...though at that time he was just plain Jerome.  Here again is Jerome's letter that I used last week, that really belongs rightly here as is the inspiration for Durer to do this engraving:

In the remotest part of a wild and stony desert, burnt up with the heat of the scorching sun so that it frightens even the monks that inhabit it, I seemed to myself to be in the midst of the delights and crowds of Rome. In this exile and prison to which for the fear of hell I had voluntarily condemned myself, I many times imagined myself witnessing the dancing of the Roman maidens as if I had been in the midst of them: In my cold body and in my parched-up flesh, which seemed dead before its death, passion was able to live. Alone with this enemy, I threw myself in spirit at the feet of Jesus, watering them with my tears, and I tamed my flesh by fasting whole weeks. I am not ashamed to disclose my temptations, but I grieve that I am not now what I then was ("Letter to St. Eustochium")

This scene of Jerome struggling with his faith with his demons makes me wonder what the lion is thinking right about now.  Probably something like "Human stuff.  I'll just curl up here awhile until he's done."

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