The story of a theme: Saint John the Baptist and Jesus Christ

The story of a theme: Saint John the Baptist and Jesus Christ
The story of a theme: Saint John the Baptist and Jesus Christ
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Throughout the history of painting, authors have de alt with an infinity of themes that range from religious or mythological subjects to realistic scenes of gender themes or even historical scenes that highlight some event of the past. In this sense, today we will talk about one of the themes that has repeated the most throughout religious painting and that has little to do with the typical scenes of the Nativity or the Passion of Christ, rather this is a friendly scene whose main characters are Jesus Christ and his rhyme Saint John.

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Actually, we can talk about two different scenes both starring the same characters. The first of them has both characters as protagonists from an early age, they are two children more or less the same age who relate to each other while playing. Saint John was the son of Saint Elizabeth, the cousin of the Virgin Mary, so both children would be cousins ​​in the second degree; Saint John, a little older than Jesus, always appears in a gesture of fidelity and protection towards his younger cousin.

In fact, there are scenes depicting The Visitation when the Virgin Mary and Saint Elizabeth are reunited while both are pregnant as a symbol of the union that will take place between their future children. There are many authors who have made paintings or sculptures representing this theme, such as Rafael deSanzio or the sculptor Luca della Robia.

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As far as the iconography is concerned, it is easy to distinguish this theme since Saint John usually wears some element that identifies him, such as camel skin or a shell in allusion to Baptism, although it is also common that together with As a child of Saint John, a lamb appears as an allusion to the Agnus Dei or Lamb of Christ or even a crucifix that predicts the passion.

It is common for other characters to appear on the scene, especially the Virgin Mary, leading to warm and likable performances that are easy to sell to move the audience. Other times Santa Isabel or even Santa Ana joins the scene, as the grandmother of both children. The set can be made even more complicated, becoming a Sacra Conversazione when the artist decides to include other saints or even the patrons of the work. Some of the most outstanding works in history on this subject are The Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo da Vinci, The Madonna Floligno by Raphael or The Children of the Shell by Murillo.

Leonardo da Vinci himself also depicted the characters together in a later age, when Saint John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ himself in the Jordan River. In this sense we must be careful not to confuse Saint John the Baptist with Saint John the Evangelist, disciple of Jesus and to whom he entrusted the care of his mother.

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