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Saint John on Patmos
German, South
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Saint John the Evangelist is shown on the island of Patmos. According to tradition, this was where he wrote the biblical Book of Revelation, a description of the events leading up to the end of the world.

Gripping an ink pot in one hand and a quill in the other, the saint is deep in concentration, writing on a scroll unfurled across his knees. His traditional symbol, the eagle, perches by his side on a red book (probably his Gospel). Acting as the medium of John’s divine inspiration, it raises its head to the heavens, where its beady eyes seem transfixed.

This picture was painted when artists were developing an interest in depicting nature, and the episode offered the opportunity to paint a varied landscape setting.

Key facts
Artist German, South
Full title Saint John on Patmos
Date made about 1460-70
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 42.8 x 43.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by W.B. Chamberlin, 1937
Inventory number NG4901
Location in Gallery Room 65
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