Saint Jerome in Wilderness (c1480). Tempera, oil on panel. 103 x 75. Saint Jerome in the Wilderness is an unfinished painting by Leonardo da Vinci, now in the Vatican Museums. The oil sketch was at one point in time after Leonardo's death cut into five separate pieces before eventually being restored into its original form as a single oil sketch. The oil sketch of an unfinished painting depicts Saint Jerome in advanced age during his retreat to the Syrian desert, where he lived the life of a hermit. The saint kneels in a rocky landscape, gazing toward a crucifix which can be discerned faintly sketched in at the extreme right of the painting. In Jerome's right hand he holds a rock with which he is traditionally shown beating his chest in penance. At his feet is the lion which became a loyal companion after he extracted a thorn from its paw. The lion, the stone and a cardinal's hat are the traditional attributes of the saint. On the left-hand side of the panel the background is a distant landscape of a lake surrounded by precipitous mountains shrouded in mist. To the right-hand side, the only discernible feature is a faintly-sketched church, seen through the opening in the rocks. The church's presence may allude to Jerome's position in Western Christianity as one of the Doctors of the Church. The composition of the painting is innovative for the oblique trapezoid form of the figure of the saint. The angular forms contrast with the sinuous form of the lion which transcribes an S across the bottom of the painting. The lion is also a symbol of power and strength associated with the Gospel of Mark which Jerome translated into Latin. The form of Saint Jerome prefigures that of the Virgin Mary in the Virgin of the Rocks. The rendering of the muscles in the neck and shoulders is seen as the first of Leonardo's anatomical drawings. The theme of penitence is central to religious iconography and has been suggested by Professor George Bent as relevant to the interpretation of Leonardo's Jerome. The only historical document concerning Leonardo's sexual life is an accusation of sodomy made in 1476, while he was still at the workshop of Verrocchio. Florentine court records show that on April9, 1476, an anonymous denunciation was left in the tamburo in the Palazzo della Signoria accusing a young goldsmith and male prostitute, Jacopo Saltarelli of being party to many wretched affairs and consents to please those persons who request such wickedness of him. The denunciation accused four people of sodomizing Saltarelli: Leonardo da Vinci, a tailor named Baccino, Bartolomeo di Pasquino, and Leonardo Tornabuoni, a member of the aristocratic Tornabuoni family. Saltarelli's name was known to the authorities because another man had been convicted of sodomy with him earlier the same year. Charges against the five were dismissed on the condition that no further accusations appear in the tamburo. The same accusation did in fact appear on June 7 but charges were again dismissed. Prof Bent indicates that the time frame of the accusations made against Leonardo and possible repentance by Leonardo for his ordeal in dealing with the denunciation against him are significant to interpreting the Jerome oil sketch as a work of art. According to Bent, Leonardo may be seen as experiencing remorse either for his ordeal or his transgression which allowed him to identify more closely with the suffering depicted in the Jerome oil sketch. The panel has been reduced in size and the remaining part was cut into five parts at some point in its history and was reassembled for the early 19th-century collector, Cardinal Fesch, the uncle of Napoleon Bonaparte. Popular legend has it that the cardinal discovered the part of the panel with the saint's torso being offered as a table top or box lid in a shop in Rome. Five years later, he found another piece being used as a wedge for shoemaker's bench. Whatever the circumstances of Fesch's finding the parts, the repaired panel was sold by his descendants to Pope Pius IX, who installed it in the Pinacoteca Vaticana, now part of the Vatican Museums. The Saint Jerome was once believed to have been part of the collection of the painter Angelica Kauffman, but this theory too has been rejected by recent scholars. Although normally on display at the Vatican Museums, Saint Jerome was on loan and displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York during the summer of 2019 in the Robert Lehman wing starting on July 15 to the start of October. The display was a dedicated stand-alone presentation of the painting under subdued lighting for preservation purposes.