(b. 1541, Candia, d. 1614, Toledo)

Baptism of Christ

Tempera on panel, 24 x 18 cm
Galleria Estense, Modena

The Baptism of Christ is the right panel on the front of the Modena Triptych.

The Modena Triptych strikingly illustrates El Greco's transition from post-Byzantine icon painter to European artist of the Latin variety. The portable altarpiece, whose unknown patron perhaps stemmed from a Creto-Venetian family, in its open state shows a total of six scenes: on the front, the central panel bears a rare depiction of the Coronation of the Christian Knight, and on the wings we find the Adoration of the Shepherds on the left and the Baptism of Christ on the right. On the reverse, a View of Mount Sinai with its famous convent of St Catherine is flanked by an Annunciation and an Admonition of Adam and Eve by God the Father. This type of object with its gilded frame elements was common in Cretan workshops of the 16th century, as is its use of wood as a painting support.