Skip to main content
The Baptism of Christ
Piero della Francesca
/

Piero was the first artist to write a treatise on perspective – that is, creating an illusion of three-dimensional space on a flat surface. Here, he has painted objects in proportion, so that they appear as we see them in real life. This emphasises the depth of the landscape, but also the harmony of the figures and natural features within it.

Christ stands in a shallow, winding stream as John the Baptist pours a small bowl of water over his head. Three angels in colourful robes witness the event. At this very moment the voice of God was heard – ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased’ (Matthew 3: 16) – and the Holy Ghost, shown here as a dove flying over Christ’s head and towards us, descended upon him.

This painting was made for the small chapel dedicated to Saint John the Baptist in the Camaldolese abbey of Piero’s hometown, Borgo Sansepolcro.

Key facts
Artist Piero della Francesca
Artist dates about 1415/20 - 1492
Full title The Baptism of Christ
Date made after 1437
Medium and support Egg on poplar
Dimensions 167 x 116 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1861
Inventory number NG665
Location in Gallery Room 61
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.

License this image

License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo