These paintings tell the story of St
Augustine’s vision of St Jerome, taken from an apocryphal letter
attributed to Augustine. The letter is referred to in a book called Hieronymus: vita et
transitus, published in
Venice around 1485, not long before Carpaccio worked on his version of the
Graham-Dixon, on his website, (andrewgrahamdixon.com) suggests that the
theme was unfamiliar to artists before the publication of this book, but
versions such as that of Gozzoli and Giovanni do Paolo were painted earlier.
In the letter Augustine
claims to have been
sitting in his study one evening writing a letter to Jerome about the
bliss souls can expect in Paradise. There was a sudden light, and it was
revealed to Augustine that Jerome had just died. He was even now enjoying
the bliss of Paradise, which Augustine as a mortal could never comprehend.
Carpaccio and Gozzoli show the vision as
a bright light; Giovanni di Paolo shows Jerome, while In
Matteo di Giovanni's painting, John the Baptist (another desert
hermit) has come along too.