Hello everyone! Since yesterday (January 13th) was a feast day commemorating the Baptism of Christ, I decided to talk about an art piece that reflects on this theme. The beautiful art piece that I found was done by Andrea del Verrocchio and Leonardo da Vinci called the Baptism of Christ, and it was created in 1472 between 75.
I’ve preciously talked about Leonardo da Vinci and his work, but I don’t believe I had the chance to talk about Andrea del Verrocchio. Verrocchio was a significant artist in Florence during the 15th century. He taught artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Sando Botticelli, Pietro Perugino, Lorenzi di Credi, and much more. He also created masterpieces.
When this work was created, da Vinci was an apprentice to Verrocchio. These figures are located on the Jordan River. Here, St. John the Baptist is on the right baptizing Christ. St. John holds a cross and a scroll that says: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (uffizi.it). On the left are two angels that were supposedly painted by da Vinci who used oil painting; while Verrocchio used tempera paint. Art historians today debate whether da Vinci painted the background and parts of Christ as well. On the top, there is a dove coming down towards Christ. Also, the hands of God, with golden rays, are releasing the dove/Holy Spirit onto Christ.
This is currently located in the Uffizi Gallery, but it was commissioned by monks to be placed in the Vallombrosan monastery inside the Church of S. Salvi.
In the Christian faith, this is an important step that Christ took to his teachings. In parts of the Bible, it states that the Heavens opened up and God’s voice was heard. In this painting, we can see this through the hands of God coming down from the sky with the Holy Spirit. Additionally, the Baptism of Christ is different to the baptism of others individuals. For Christ, it was the first step he needed to do before his teachings.
Also, I think this painting shows the differences between the physical beautiful of humans and angels. In one of my classes, someone pointed out (in another painting) that people who work hard and overwork themselves have rough physical complexions, while angels, who also work very hard for God, have fragile and light complexions. I thought that was interesting to note because here Christ and St. John have rougher complexions. Of course, this can be simply the artists’ stylistic choices, but it’s interesting to see the difference between immortal angels and mortal humans.
Feature Image from stcharleschurch.org