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Saint John the Baptist Bartolomé González


Bartolomé González Valladolid 1564 – 1627 Madrid

Culture Spanish
Date 1621
Object type painting
Medium, technique oil on canvas

150 × 90 cm

Inventory number 804
Collection Old Master Paintings
On view Museum of Fine Arts, First Floor, European Art 1600–1700 and British Painting 1600–1800, Cabinet 4

Appointed as a court artist in 1617, Bartolomé González subsequently painted mostly members of the ruling family. He executed his portraits in a dry, rigid style, carrying on the traditions of the Renaissance. In contrast, his few religious paintings are distinguished by their powerful plasticity, their dramatic lighting (tenebroso), and their meticulous imitation of nature. In this painting, following iconographic convention, Saint John the Baptist is holding a cross made from two reeds. The words on the banderole mean “Behold the Lamb of God”. This is accentuated by the saint’s hand gesture towards the lamb at his feet, symbolising Christ. Saint John, living ascetically in the wilderness, is wearing animal fur and a faded red shroud, the latter referring to his martyrdom.

This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.

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