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The Baptism of Christ
Probably by Sassoferrato (after Pietro Perugino)
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This scene shows Christ being baptised by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. The composition is directly based on a panel painted by Perugino for the Benedictine Abbey of San Pietro in Perugia, Italy. When the work was acquired by the National Gallery in the nineteenth century it was thought to be an authentic Renaissance painting, but was subsequently dismissed as a nineteenth-century forgery. Recent technical examination has shown that its pigments are typical of those used in the seventeenth century, including the rare lead-tin-antimony yellow.

In the mid-seventeenth century, Perugino’s original painting was still at San Pietro, where it would have been seen by Sassoferrato, who was working there between 1630 and 1650. Known primarily for his images of the Virgin Mary, Sassoferrato was also a skilled copyist. This painting demonstrates several of his stylistic idiosyncracies, and he is one of the few painters known to have used lead-tin-antimony yellow.

Key facts
Artist Probably by Sassoferrato (after Pietro Perugino)
Artist dates 1609 - 1685
Full title The Baptism of Christ
Date made about 1630-50
Medium and support Oil on canvas mounted on poplar
Dimensions 32.5 x 59 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1894
Inventory number NG1431
Location in Gallery Not on display
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