Introducing Saint John the Baptist: Artworks from The Metropolitan Museum
Saint John the Baptist is a figure who is revered in Christianity as the forerunner of Jesus Christ. He is often portrayed in art as ungroomed and wearing a hairshirt or pelt, with a shell and staff. There are numerous artworks depicting Saint John the Baptist in The Metropolitan Museum, many of which date back to the medieval period. These artworks provide insight into how different cultures have represented Saint John the Baptist over time.
Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints
This painting was created by Raphael around 1504-5.
It hung in a part of the church reserved for the nuns.
The nuns sold their painting in 1678.
The Penitence of Saint Jerome
Albrecht Durer referred to the artist in 1521 as the "good landscape painter."
The Holy Family with the Young Saint John the Baptist
This painting was commissioned by Giovanni Borgherini at a time when Florence had freed itself of Medici dominance.
The painting shows John the Baptist passing the orb to Christ, indicating him as sole ruler of the city.
In 1532, the Medici family was reinstated violently and permanently as its rulers.
The Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist
This panel once formed the right wing of an altarpiece dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, the left wing of which is nearby.
Recounted in biblical texts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, this pendant shows the martyrdom of the saint.
John had been thrown into prison by King Herod for preaching against the latter's decision to marry his brother's wife, Herodias.
Scheming with her mother to get rid of John, Salome danced seductively before Herod, thereafter demanding the head of John the Baptist as a reward.
Herod reluctantly agreed, and the head of Saint John was delivered to Salome on a platter.
The Birth and Naming of Saint John the Baptist; (reverse) Trompe-l'oeil with Painting of The Man of Sorrows
This panel once formed the left wing of an altarpiece dedicated to Saint John the Baptist that was commissioned by abbot Jacques Coëne for the Benedictine Abbey Church in Marchiennes, near Tournai.
It depicts Saint Elizabeth in bed, shortly after giving birth to the newborn saint.
Zacharias appears at the entrance to her room, carrying a scroll which declares his son's name will be John
The pendant shows the moment after the Baptist's death, when Salome receives his head on a platter.
The centerpiece of the triptych, likely a sculpture of the Baptism of Christ, has not survived
Saint John the Baptist; Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata
The painting is a rare pairing of John the Baptist and Saint Francis.
The painting could have been commissioned by an Italian merchant in Bruges.
The painting could have been originally the wings of a triptych, and could have flanked a Crucifixion or a Lamentation.
The Baptism of Christ
An artist of international reputation, Ricci left for England in 1711 or 1712.
This fine oil sketch is for the now lost decoration of a wall in the Duke of Portland's chapel at Bulstrode House, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire.
The facing wall showed the Last Supper and the ceiling, the Ascension.
In 1733 George Vertue praised Ricci's work in the chapel:"the whole a noble, free invention [with] great force of lights and shade, with variety and freedom in the composition of the parts."