Garofalo uses landscape elements to silhouette and emphasize the sacred figures. John the Baptist is placed against a dark bluff, which signifies his self-imposed isolation in the wilderness; in contrast Christ is placed in the lighter half of the composition, which underscores the divine nature of His baptism. The graceful elegance of the figures, coupled with the skillfully rendered sfumato (hazy) effects in the distant landscape, impart a delicate beauty to this painting. The Dominican nun in the right foreground makes it likely it was commissioned by one of the many Dominican convents in the region.
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- Titles The Baptism of Christ (Proper)
- Artist Benvenuto Tisi, called Garofalo, Italy, 1481 - 1559
- Medium tempera on panel
- Dimensions 23 3/4 x 15 7/8 in. (60.3 x 40.3 cm) frame: 33 3/4 × 24 3/4 × 3 1/4 in. (85.7 × 62.9 × 8.3 cm)
- Credit Line Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 1961.94
- Work Type painting
- Classification Paintings
- Provenance Cardinal Carlo Barberini (1630-1704), Rome by ca. 1690 [see note 1]. With Count Alessandro Contini-Bonacossi (1878-1955), Florence (1878-1955) [see note 2]; purchased by Samuel H. Kress (1863-1955), New York, March 4, 1932; gift to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1939; deaccessioned in 1952 and returned to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation; on loan to the Birmingham Museum of Art, 1952; gift of the Kress Foundation to the Birmingham Museum of Art, 1961
1. According to the bill of sale from Contini-Bonacossi to Kress dated March 4, 1932 in the curatorial files of the Birmingham Museum of art and verified in the inventory of the contents of Cardinal Carlo Barberini's Palazzo Barberini alle Quattro Fontane dating from 1692-1704 as transcribed in Lavin, Marilyn Aronberg. Seventeenth-century Barberini Documents and Inventories of Art (New York: New York University Press, 1975), 434.
2. Provenance information from Shapley, Fern Rusk. Paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection, Italian Schools XV-XVI Century (London: Phaidon Press, 1968), 79.