(b. 1562, Sesto Fiorentino, d. 1629, Roma)

St John the Baptist

Marble, height 243 cm
Sant'Andrea della Valle, Rome

The statue was commissioned by Cardinal Maffeo Barberini, the future Urban VIII, for the Barberini Chapel in Sant'Andrea della Valle. The chapel, built by Matteo Castelli, became a focal point for the artistic culture of the day, intent on moving on from the vocabulary of late Mannerism toward something more modern.

The way in which the body of St John twists is indebted to Michelangelo's Christ Bearing the Cross in Santa Maria sopra Minerva. The figure lacks power and seems hesitant. The right arm of the statue does not help: it is too small and limp so that instead of heightening the twisting movement it seems like a terrible loss of tone, made worse by the preciousness of the saint's curlt hair, where the locks are overworked. The negative impact is completed by the animal skin worn by St John and the affected curly wool of the lamb.