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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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One of the last panels in this series for the Florence Baptistery, Lorenzo Ghiberti devotes this relatively simple scene to that of John, from Christian scripture

The majority of the panels from the north doors concentrate entirely on episodes from the life of Jesus Christ, most notably with the likes of the The Annunciation, The Nativity, The Last Supper, The Crucifixion and The Resurrection. John himself also appeared earlier in this series, in the Christ is Baptised by John panel.

The last few items, however, focused on individual key figures from the Christian religion, almost as if the sculptor had competed Christ's life and still have a few remaining panels left over to complete the 28 needed to finish the doors.

In this depiction John the Baptist looks in a more thoughtful pose, with just a few additional elements added to this less dramatic scene. St John the Baptist appears again in a tall sculpture which is considered most of an independant artwork. Indeed he appears again countless times in the work of other artists, from the Renaissance and Baroque periods plus in some cases after that too.

The Preaching of St John the Baptist by Pieter Bruegel the Elder featured a huge gathering, typical of this Flemish artist's compositional style right throughout his career. There was also the powerful scene of St. John the Baptist Preaching, c. 1665, by Mattia Preti, which used dramatic lighting that might remind some of the work of Caravaggio. There were also contributions by Bartolomé Esteban Perez Murillo with The Holy Children with a Shell and the Saint appears again in Matthias Grünewald's Isenheim Altarpiece.