The work of Jheronimus Bosch came about in a religious context in full development. The 15th and 16th Centuries were characterised by the movement of the modern devotion and the bourgeois humanism. Essential within the modern devotion is the tendency to reduce religion to the teachings of Christ. The holy iconography was usually limited to one type: the solitary, tormented hermit who defeats evil. Bosch created a surreal and universal oeuvre, in which the fight between Good and Evil forms a central theme. Often he used a visionary imagery whose roots were in the images of the world and language of the people.
Saint Jerome lived in the fourth Century and was one of the four, western Church Fathers. When he was thirty-eight years old, he left the public life in Rome and went to Palestine to live an ascetic life. In the middle of a chaos of strange plants, tree stumps and rocks, Saint Jerome lies half-naked, sunken in prayer, with a cross in his arms. The lion, the attribute of the saint, is changed here into a small household pet. A folk legend recounts how Saint Jerome removed a painful thorn from the lion’s paw and as such befriended him. Many other animals populate the strange world in which the saint has withdrawn.