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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 x 106 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1840
Inventory number NG176
Location Room 30
Art route(s) B
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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