St. Jerome with Skull & Lion Reliquary
St. Jerome, who lived in the 4th century, is the patron saint of knowledge, keen intellect, writing and books. Perhaps conjured up during Medieval Ages, the oft retold story of the thorn pulled from the lion's paw originates with him.
His likeness comes alive through reverse painting on glass. We see him robed, with the lion at his side and a skull resting on the earth nearby — symbols frequently associated with him. A halo encircles his head and he gazes upward. A trumpet harkens as the scene is enshrouded in darkness. Thick convex glass covers the rendering. The sides are of silver and twisted wire work decorates the middle.
On the reverse is the image of St. Francis. This time in the form of a wood cut that has been preserved under glass. Here the skull is next to him. However, we know this is not St. Jerome as he is shown with stigmata (wounds on the hands and other areas of the body as were inflicted during the crucifixion of Jesus). St. Francis, not St. Jerome, was reported to bear stigmata. Mostly in black ink, there are also touches of blue ink line work used for the background.
The Spanish were known for their reliquaries and images under glass of saints and religious figures. Catholicism being a major driving force behind their society, it greatly impacted their jewelry for centuries.
Condition: Very good for the painting; glass is excellent with a tad bit of light even wear and tiny scratches visible with magnification; edges have a few minor dents and green patination. We have opted not to clean this but it is easily done if requested. Back glass has a few scratches and one indention which appears as original to the making.
Measurements: 1-15/16 inches (5.1 cm) in total length including top two “O” fittings. 1-1/2 inches (3.8 cm) in height for the painting and rim by 1-11/16 inches (4.4 cm) in width by more than ½ of an inch (1.3 cm) in depth. This antique reliquary has a weight of 26 grams.
Date: Late 17th or early 18th century and is most likely Spanish in origin.
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