During his lifetime, Jean-Léon Gérôme was admired more than almost any other artist. His history paintings are a feast for the eyes – perfect down to the smallest detail. In his Saint Jerome, he presents a traditional subject in Christian art in an unusual and innovative way. According to legend, out of compassion Jerome once took a thorn out of a lion’s paw. Afterwards, the lion became his faithful companion. The majority of works shows Saint Jerome praying or in his study with his lion. But Gérôme has chosen a very different subject. Here, the emaciated ascetic saint has lain his head, surrounded by a neon-like green halo, onto the lion’s fur – a masterpiece of painting. Saint Jerome has clearly fallen asleep, and we can see the soles of feet marked by his wanderings in the desert. By the way, Jean-Leon Gérome painted a number of scenes with lions, since it perfectly fitted his first name – Jean-Léon. And of course, the name Jerome is also very close to the artist’s surname of ‘Gérome’.