St. John the Baptist with a cross pointing to the Saviour
Bartolomeo Schedoni (1578-1615)
16th century, Oil on canvas
St. John, seated on a square stone, points to the figure of Christ in the background, next to a group of houses and a river which we may understand to be the Jordan. The scene is rich in symbolism: from the angular stone, alluding to the fundamental role played by John in announcing the coming of the Saviour to the Jewish people, to the apparition in the distance of an adult Christ, which does not seem to be a prelude to the baptism on the banks of the Jordan, since the Baptist is shown as an adolescent, but rather a prophetic vision of that event. The cloudy, twilit sky contrasts with the calm gesture and serene gaze of the protagonist, underlining the Saint's steadfastness in following the path of faith and his future martyrdom. This evocative painting has been attributed to Bartolomeo Schedoni for a variety of reasons, above all because the artist has cited a painting with the same subject: "St. John the Baptist seated on a stone set in a thicket of various intertwined Trees, forming a graceful counterpoint to the low Horizon, hints at Our Lord going to Emaus".