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The Young Christ Adored by Saint John the Baptist

Lucas Cranach the ElderCa.1530-1540

Museo Lázaro Galdiano

Museo Lázaro Galdiano
Madrid, Spain

Lucas Cranach adhered to the Reformist maxim: “Sola gratia, sola fide, sola Scriptura” (“by grace alone, through faith alone, in Scripture alone”), and this is palpable in his paintings. His style is narrative, representing the sacred texts in images. His work followed the propagandist drive of the Reformation, in an uneducated society in which it was necessary to make the literal meaning of the sacred texts understood. The painting technique he used was to create symbols and archetypes, with a visual composition that strictly adheres to the texts. This work reproduces the Bible passage of the Gospel of Saint John, before the baptism of Christ: “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29). The images could not be more expressive, nor more faithful illustrations of the holy message. Saint John kneels, in camel-skin robes, as befits his status of prophet. And “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness” (John 1:23) is represented as a child kneeling before Jesus, pointing to him with his right hand while his left rests on the lamb, alluding to the classical representation of the saint. Jesus is depicted as a symbol of salvation, holding the martyr’s cross in his left hand while he makes the sign of the blessing with his right. Temptation—Eve’s snake—is coiled around the base of the cross, attempting to bite the young Christ’s feet while he stands, victorious, on the skull and the monster beside it, which represent death and sin.

Details

  • Title: The Young Christ Adored by Saint John the Baptist
  • Creator: Lucas Cranach
  • Date Created: Ca.1530-1540
  • Physical Dimensions: 56 x 36 cm.
  • Provenance: Lazaro Galdiano Museum
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: © Museo Lázaro Galdiano
  • Medium: Oil on panel

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