The Penitence of St. Jerome
c. 1520
Albrecht Bouts (Flemish, c.1452/5-1549)
On View

Albrecht Bouts was the second son of Dieric Bouts. His workshop specialized in the production of modest, small scale devotional pictures which proved very popular with his Catholic contemporaries as an aid to private prayer. Depictions of St. Jerome (c. 347–420), one of the learned Fathers of the Western Church, first appear in Italy around 1400. Following the 1516 publication of Erasmus of Rotterdam’s study of the saint, his image became popular in Northern Europe as well. Here the saint is shown as a penitent hermit in the desert, kneeling before the Crucifix, as he beats his breast with a stone. The cardinal's robes, strewn across a small tree, allude to his position as a Doctor of the Church. Nearby sits the lion that became his devoted companion after the saint removed a thorn from his paw. The precisely painted landscape is a testament to the Flemish love for detail and realism.


  • Artist Name: Albrecht Bouts (Flemish, c.1452/5-1549)
  • Title: The Penitence of St. Jerome
  • Date: c. 1520
  • Medium: Oil on panel
  • Dimensions: 16-1/8 x 17-3/4 in. (41 x 45.1 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.2009.2.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

Reverend E. F. Egan, England; by 1891; by descent to his grandniece;
Mrs. Elizabeth Mepham (sale, London, Sotheby's, 2 December 1964, lot 101, ill., to);
[Julius Weitzner, London].
[Hallsborough Gallery, London, 1969, to];
The Norton Simon Foundation;
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

Exhibition of Works by Old Masters

  • London, Royal Academy, 1891-01 to 1891-03

[on loan]

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1969-12-16 to 1974-11-26

[on loan]

  • Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum, 1969-08-18 to 1969-12-15

The Expressive Body: Memory, Devotion, Desire (1400-1750)

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2021-10-15 to 2022-03-07
  • Royal Academy, Exhibition of Works by Old Masters, 1891, no. 139
  • Friedmann, H., A Bestiary of Saint Jerome: Animal Symbolism in European Religious Art, 1980, fig. 69 pp. 86-87
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 23
  • Stroo,Cyriel; Pascale Syfer-d'Olne, Anne Dubois, Roel Slachmuylders, and Nathalie Toussaint, The Flemish Primitives: The Hieronymus Bosch, Albrecht Bouts, Gerard David, Colijn de Coter, and Goossen van der Weyden Groups; Catalogue of Early Netherlandish Painting in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels, 2001, fig. 82 pp. 156-165
  • Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Bartolomé Bermejo and the Hispano-Flemish Painting, 2003, pp. 346-351
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 658 p. 324
  • Henderiks, Valentine, Albrecht Bouts, 2011, Ill. 287 p. 323
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