St. John the Baptist, ca. 1523
Oil on panel
37 x 26 3/4 in. (94 x 68 cm)
Palazzo Pitti, Galleria Palatina, Florence
Courtesy the Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo
This sensuous depiction of the luminous, handsome young saint was commissioned by a wealthy Florentine banker for display in his home. John's muscular body recalls that of Michelangelo's David. Standing in a rocky outcropping with his attributes of reed cross, camel skin, baptismal bowl, and proclamatory scroll held closed in his hand, he looks up to the source of divine radiance, enacting his role (as declared in the Gospel of John) as witness to the light of Christ.