The Baptism (1442) by Piero della Francesca

The Baptism - Piero della Francesca - 1450

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Baptism
ArtistPiero della Francesca
MediumTempera on Panel
Dimensions167 x 116 cm
Art MovementEarly Renaissance
Current LocationNational Gallery, London

About The Baptism

“The Baptism” is a notable artwork by Piero della Francesca, created around 1450. The piece is a tempera on panel and is indicative of the Early Renaissance art movement. It measures approximately 167 by 116 centimeters and falls within the religious painting genre. The artwork is currently housed at the National Gallery in London.

The artwork elucidates a serene yet compelling depiction of a Biblical scene from the New Testament, where John the Baptist is baptizing Jesus Christ in the River Jordan. In the foreground, the central figure of Jesus stands semi-immersed in the water, hands joined in a pose of humble acceptance. John the Baptist, to his right, is shown extending his right hand over Christ’s head, performing the ritual while holding a reed cross, an identifiable attribute of the saint.

Above this pivotal interaction, a dove, symbolizing the Holy Spirit, descends against the backdrop of a clear blue sky, completing the representation of the Holy Trinity. Surrounding these central figures are onlookers, including three angels on the left, who are characterized by their serene and unsullied expressions, awaiting to drape a garment over Christ’s shoulders.

The landscape behind them unfolds in a series of gentle hills and trees, painted with meticulous attention to detail, indicative of Piero della Francesca’s command over perspective and light. This serene, pastoral backdrop harmonizes with the calm demeanor of the figures and underscores the gravity and peacefulness of the depicted ritual. The composition, combined with the use of color and light, imbues the painting with an ethereal and timeless quality, typical of della Francesca’s style and the Early Renaissance period.

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