National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Baptism of Christ Paris Bordone (artist)
Venetian, 1500 - 1571
The Baptism of Christ, c. 1535/1540
oil on canvas
overall: 129.5 x 132 cm (51 x 51 15/16 in.) framed: 177 x 178.8 x 10.2 cm (69 11/16 x 70 3/8 x 4 in.)
Widener Collection
1942.9.5
Not on View
From the Tour: Titian and the Late Renaissance in Venice
Object 6 of 7

For centuries artists referred to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke for their depictions of Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River by his precursor John the Baptist. With his head lowered and his hands folded in prayer, Jesus stands in the river as John pours water over his head from a shallow dish. To the left an angel waits to clothe Jesus at the conclusion of the purification ritual. In the upper left, a flood of heavenly light suggests the voice of God, who declared, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

Paris Bordone was born in Treviso, but he soon moved to Venice, where he studied briefly in Titian's studio. Bordone's pictures, like works by his teacher, are active and energetic. Here, the figures' potential for movement is emphasized by their heavy musculature and by the dramatic light that dances over the surfaces of their bodies. In contrast to Titian's use of rich and generally warm colors, Bordone fills his palette with cooler and more metallic colors, and his tighter handling of the paint results in a more precise description of realistic details.

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