A Life in a Day: John the Baptist

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A Life in a Day: John the Baptist

Date and time

Tuesday 24 June: 11am – 12pm; 2-3pm; 4-5pm

Room 54

Dr Jennifer Sliwka, Professor Ben Quash and Matthew Morgan

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Join us in celebrating the Feast Day of John the Baptist on 24 June.

Cousin to Jesus, itinerant foreteller of the coming of the Messiah and the baptiser of Christ, John plays a crucial role in the Gospels.

Come along to any or all three of the sessions throughout the day. All begin in Room 54 but will move throughout the gallery as we explore the fascinating and varying depictions of John’s life through works in the National Gallery collection. Artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Bronzino, Raphael and Caravaggio have depicted different moments in John the Baptist’s life.


These gallery talks are intended to launch a series of online films recently made for the Gallery by Dr Jennifer Sliwka, the Ahmanson Curator in Art and Religion at the National Gallery and Professor Ben Quash of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College London.

The films represent the highlights of a collaborative MA course Dr Sliwka and Professor Quash have been teaching for the last four years. From June 24 onwards, the films will be made freely available on the National Gallery's Channel and on the Gallery's YouTube Channel [External link]


11am - 12pm: Birth and Infancy: Please join Dr Sliwka and Professor Quash as they discuss paintings related to John’s birth and infancy including Leonardo's 'Virgin of the Rocks' and Bronzino's 'Madonna and Child with Saints'.

2-3pm: Wilderness and Preaching: Dr Sliwka and Professor Quash will focus on John’s time in the wilderness and his preaching, as they look at works by Raphael and Parmigianino.

4-5pm: Baptism and Martyrdom: The National Gallery's Matthew Morgan will discuss works - including those by Caravaggio and Puvis de Chavannes - depicting John’s martyrdom.

Please feel free to join them at any point throughout the day.

Image above: Detail from Giovanni di Paolo, ‘The Birth of Saint John the Baptist: Predella Panel’, 1454