This panel was the central section of a polyptych. It may be one of Piero's earliest extant works. Side panels and a predella were painted in the early 1460s, by Matteo di Giovanni (active 1452; died 1495). The altarpiece was in the chapel of Saint John the Baptist in the Camaldolese abbey (now cathedral) of Piero's native town, Borgo Sansepolcro. The town, visible in the distance to the left of Christ, may be meant for Borgo Sansepolcro: the landscape certainly evokes the local area.

The dove symbolises the Holy Spirit. It is foreshortened to form a shape like the clouds. God the Father, the third member of the Trinity, may originally have been represented in a roundel above this panel.

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
about 1415/20 - 1492
Full title
The Baptism of Christ
Date made
1450s
Medium and support
Egg on poplar
Dimensions
167 x 116 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1861
Inventory number
NG665
Location in Gallery