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Caravaggio painted Youth with a Ram (also known as, Saint John the Baptist) in the year of 1602 when he was a member of his first patron.
Caravaggio's choice to paint John the Baptist as a young boy opposed to an older man or an infant was a different approach compared to other artists at this time.
His depiction of Saint John the Baptist was heavily influenced by the model he had known prior to creating this piece. The model used for this painting was a young boy named Cecco, who is thought to be Cravaggio's servant and possible pupil.
Caravaggio stratgially used this boy to model for his painting because of the presence of glee and happiness he brought forth to the artwork.
In Caravaggio's painting Youth with a Ram, a young boy is depicted alongside a ram in the style of a portrait. This young boy is commonly referred to as Saint John the Baptist. According to the bible, John the Baptist was the cousin of Jesus, and his purpose was to prepare for the coming of the Messiah.
Irony runs through this piece, due to the fact that Saint John the Baptist is commonly depicted with a lamb, and not a ram. Many have theorized that the Ram featured in this painting could possibly symbolize lasciviousness and sacrifice.
The medium used on this painting is oil paint on canvas. Caravaggio stayed true to the realistic aspects and features of his model and his surroundings maintaining all correct proportions and tonal value throughout the piece. This painting is mainly composed of dark colours.
This choice of colour creates a sense of depth through the heavy shadows that manifests the boy's overall shape and form. There is a sense of static movement in this piece - as the boy simply rests upon the sheets beneath him and caress the ram behind him.