Description Saint John the Baptist was Christ's greatest prophet. Pointing to his staff, he is depicted as "the voice in the wilderness" who prepared the way for the Lord, as described in the New Testament. His primitive garment of camel's skin and his bony appearance speak to his ascetic life in the desert, where he preached repentance to prepare for the coming of Christ. His eyes appear large, as the flesh of his face is sunken. The saint's bodily neglect has contributed to his sanctity, symbolized by the splendidly tooled gold background. His name is written in his halo, and on his scroll can be read in Latin the words that he exclaimed upon seeing Jesus: "Behold the Lamb of God." The panel was originally one of the side panels of a polyptych (altarpiece made of several panels).
Provenance Don Marcello Massarenti Collection, Rome [date and mode of acquisition unknown] [1881 catalogue: no. 51; 1897 catalogue: no. 69, as Verrocchio]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1902, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Translation] Behold the Lamb of God; [Transcription] On scroll: ECCE.AN | GNVS DEI; [Transcription] On halo: S.IOVANES BATTISTA
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters with the Massarenti Collection, 1902
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