VERROCCHIO, Andrea del
(b. 1435, Firenze, d. 1488, Venezia)

The Baptism of Christ

Oil on wood, 177 x 151 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Commissioned by the monastery church of San Salvi in Florence, where remained until 1530, the picture was executed in the workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio, whose style is well defined by the figures of Christ and Baptist. The special fame of the work is however due to the Verrocchio's pupil who helped him paint the picture: in the blond angel on the left and in the landscape above is in fact recognizable the hand of Leonardo, the very young Leonardo, present in Verrocchio's workshop around 1470. Some critics ascribe the second angel to another young Florentine artist, Sandro Botticelli.

St John the Baptist baptizes Jesus by pouring water over his head. The extended arms of God, the golden rays, the dove with outstretched wings and the cruciform nimbus show that Jesus is the Son of God and part of the Trinity. Two angels on the riverbank are holding Jesus' garment. The composition is attributed to Verrocchio, although there can be no definite answer as to which artist produced it.

St John the Baptist is holding a slender cross and a scroll inscribed with the announcement of the Saviour’s advent: ECCE AGNUS DEI [QUI TOLLIT PECCATA MUNDI] ("Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." Gospel according to John 1, 29).