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The sense of movement, flickering light and lively brushwork of this painting are characteristic of Castello. The long-necked Madonna shows the influence of Parmigianino, and the setting with the column base to the left is reminiscent of the settings in Van Dyck's portraits, many of which could be seen in Castello's native Genoa, where Van Dyck had worked in the early 1620s.

The inscription is from the New Testament (John 1: 36), and recalls the words of John the Baptist on recognising Christ as the Messiah.

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