Saint Jerome is shown working on his translation of the Bible while in retreat at a monastery in Bethlehem. The monastery is shown in the middle distance on the right, along with an episode in which the hermit's faithful lion recovered the monastery's donkey which had been stolen by itinerant merchants. The Saint's penitence in the Syrian desert is depicted on the left.
A smaller version (49 x 35cm.), showing the Saint's head at a slightly different angle, is in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin; unsigned, this was accepted as autograph by Friedländer and Rosenberg, who dated it c.1515-20 (M.J. Friedländer and J. Rosenberg, Die Gemälde von Lucas Cranach, Berlin, 1932, p. 48, no. 94, illustrated; 2nd. (English) ed., The Paintings of Lucas Cranach, London and New York, 1978, p. 91, no. 107, illustrated).
Dieter Koepplin and Tilman Falk (loc. cit., no. 408, fig. 290) agree with Friedländer and Rosenberg's early dating of the Berlin panel, suggesting that it was painted c.1515 by stylistic comparison with such works as The Agony in the Garden in the Gemäldegalerie, Dresden, which they date c.1515/20 (ibid., p. 480, no. 328; I, 1974, p. 373, colour pl. 23). They do not, however, accept it as an autograph work, classifying it as a workshop repetition while publishing the present picture for the first time (from a photograph in the Witt Library presumably taken in 1939) as 'qualitätvolle' (full of quality).
Friedländer and Rosenberg record a small copy (49 x 36cm.) in which two small armorial shields are shown hanging from the tree on the right (wrongly translated as 'the left' in the 1978 edition); this was in the Galerie d'Eve of Metz and F.W. Fabarius of Düsseldorf Sale, Heberle, Cologne, 20-21 March 1899, lot 32, illustrated, was in a Stuttgart private collection shortly before 1932 (according to Friedländer and Rosenberg), and was in the Achenbach Sale, Berlin, 10 March 1937, lot 59, pl. 19