This painting is part of the group: The Demidoff Altarpiece

This panel showing Saint John the Baptist is from the large 'Demidoff Altarpiece' made for the high altar of San Domenico in Ascoli Piceno, east central Italy.

Saint John is shown with two of the attributes commonly associated with him: a cross and a scroll bearing the first few words of the phrase 'ECCE. AGNVS DEI QVI TOLLIT PECCATUM MONDI' (Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world).

To indicate his life as a hermit in the wilderness, Crivelli has painted him dressed in animal skins and standing in a landscape of rocks and sparse plants (the other saints in the altarpiece stand on marble steps). A bird is perched, hunched up with its back to us to the Baptist's right. The splash of red just visible on its head suggests that it is a goldfinch. (The goldfinch was said to have acquired its red face by plucking a thorn from Christ's brow on his way to Calvary to be crucified, and being splashed by his blood.)

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
about 1430/5 - about 1494
Full title
Saint John the Baptist
Group
Date made
1476
Medium and support
Tempera on poplar
Dimensions
138.5 x 40 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1868
Inventory number
NG788.2
Location in Gallery

Other paintings in the group: The Demidoff Altarpiece

Painting
Carlo Crivelli
1476
Carlo Crivelli, 'The Virgin and Child'
Painting
Carlo Crivelli
1476
Carlo Crivelli, 'Saint Peter'
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Carlo Crivelli
1476
Carlo Crivelli: 'Saint Catherine of Alexandria'
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Carlo Crivelli
1476
Carlo Crivelli: 'Saint Dominic'
Painting
Carlo Crivelli
1476
Carlo Crivelli: 'Saint Francis'
Painting
Carlo Crivelli
1476
Carlo Crivelli: 'Saint Andrew'
Painting
Carlo Crivelli
1476
Carlo Crivelli: 'Saint Stephen'
Painting
Carlo Crivelli
1476
Carlo Crivelli: 'Saint Thomas Aquinas'