(b. 1486, Firenze, d. 1530, Firenze)

St John the Baptist

c. 1523
Oil on wood, 94 x 68 cm
Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence

This is a celebrated picture. Although actually disfigured by bad restorations in old times which have changed the background and diminished the splendor and especially the interrelation of colors, there still remains the frank, original and lively conception of this youthful figure.

The impressive image of the young Baptist, of an evocative power that in this case also one might call pre-Baroque, emerges from a dark grey background in which one glimpses the slightly pinkish rockface of a grotto. The athletic figure, the animal skin and the cloak are thrown into relief by a dramatic light that still illumines wonderful pictorial effects visible in the better preserved parts, such as the cross made of cane in the lower corner. These are the effects that will be taken up again by many of the Florentine painters of the 17th century.