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Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, The Infant Saint John with the Lamb

Key facts
Full title The Infant Saint John with the Lamb
Artist Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
Artist dates 1617 - 1682
Date made 1660-5
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 165 × 106 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1840
Inventory number NG176
Location Room 30
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Infant Saint John with the Lamb
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

Saint John the Baptist stands in a rocky landscape, a reference to the wilderness in which he lived as a young man, dressed in a camel-hair tunic and eating only locusts and honey.

He embraces a lamb, a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice, and points towards heaven. According to the Gospel, when Saint John met Christ he declared: ‘Behold, the Lamb of God’. These words are inscribed in Latin on a ribbon wound around a reed cross, one of Saint John’s attributes (a symbolic object associated with him).

The lamb is also a symbol of Christ as the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for his sheep – as Christ is believed to have done for humanity’s salvation.

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