(b. ca. 1410, Venezia ?, d. 1461, Firenze ?)

St John in the Wilderness (predella 2)

c. 1445
Tempera on wood, 28 x 32 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

The Magnoli Altarpiece had five predella panels which are now in the museums of Washington, Cambridge and Berlin. They were probably originally arranged in the same order as the saints appear in the main panel, that is: The Stigmatization of St Francis, St John in the Wilderness (both in the National Gallery, Washington), Annunciation, St Zenobius Performs a Miracle (in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge) and the Martyrdom of St Lucy (in the Staatliche Museen, Berlin).

In the predella we find the same pale and delicate colours as in the main panel, but handled with greater freedom and more loosely blended together. In some scenes, like the St John in the Wilderness for example, the colours and the light are the true protagonists. This scene is also interesting from an iconographical point of view, for it is the only known depiction of St John in the wilderness at the moment when he is removing his worldly clothes to don the camel skin, the symbol of his vocation.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.