St Jerome in the Wilderness
Balthasar Grießmann (c. 1620-1706), monogrammed
Salzburg or Vienna, c. 1675
Monogram BG bottom right
Height 14 cm, width 11.5 cm, depth 2.5 cm
The holy hermit stands out as a three-dimensional figure against the background of an insubstantial shelter in a barren landscape. Seated, he is turning his attention from the skull and crucifix to gaze at the angel blowing a trumpet in heaven. The lion which accompanied Jerome in gratitude after the saint had removed a thorn from its paw is curled up at his feet. The saint’s hand is still resting on the skull he was contemplating before he was interrupted from his meditation by the trumpet-blowing angel. The skull and crucifix stand on a small table with the artist’s monogram, BG, on the side of the right leg. This makes the exquisitely executed ivory relief one of the few signed works by the celebrated Baroque sculptor Balthasar Grießmann, who devoted himself more than once to the subject of St Jerome. There is a second Grießmann ivory relief dealing with the same subject matter in the Kunstkammer at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. It too is signed with Grießmann’s monogram, BG, and bears the date 1673 (Inv. Nos. KK 3659 & KK 3647).