MASTER of the Life of Saint John the Baptist
(active 1325-1350 in Rimini)

Scenes from the Life of Saint John the Baptist

Tempera on panel, 49 x 41 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

This painting was part of a large altarpiece that was dismembered and dispersed at an unspecified date. At the centre was a Madonna with Child (National Gallery of Art, Washington) flanked by scenes from the life of Saint John the Baptist. Other than the Vatican panel, the scenes were The Announcement to Zachary (formerly Street Collection, Bath), The Birth of John the Baptist and The Baptism of Christ (National Gallery of Art, Washington), Saint John Questioned by the Pharisees (Seattle Museum of Art), Saint John in Prison (formerly Street Collection, London), The Beheading of John the Baptist (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), and Saint John in Limbo (formerly Loeser Collection, Florence).

The Vatican panel represents the encounter between the Baptist and the angel Uriel on the Mount of Penitence in Jordan (suggested by the gushing water on the right) and his immediate early vocation at the age of seven. On the left, Saint John as a child is accompanied by an angel. The latter is pointing to the succeeding episode, pictured on a higher plane, in which the saint is seen praying on a mountain.