5 October 2006 -
7 January 2007

At Home in Renaissance Italy

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St Jerome in his Study Enlarge image of St Jerome in his Study

St Jerome in his Study
Antonello da Messina (about 1430-79)
About 1475, Venice
Lime wood painted with oil
National Gallery, London

Whether used for business or the display of collections, the study or scrittoio was not a room that was accessible to many visitors. It was a quintessentially male space, an office but also a repository of family memory, where household documents were often written and treasured.

Most noblemen, wealthy professionals and merchants would have had a study. Sometimes it was on the ground floor or on a mezzanine, but generally it was on the first floor, opening off the camera.

The study often had special furnishings for storing papers and valuables relating to work, as well as cupboards and shelves for the display of collections. These might include rare books, scientific instruments, natural curiosities and small bronzes inspired by classical antiquity.