Lorenzo and Jacopo Salimbeni, John Baptizing in the River Jordan, from The Life of John the Baptist

1416
Fresco
Oratory of St. John the Baptist, Urbino, Italy

In the center, John baptizes two of the people who have come to the River Jordan (Matthew 3:1-2, Mark 1:4-5, Luke 3:1-3). He wears the tunic of camel hair and leather belt of Mark 1:6. On the left the people disrobe in preparation. The soft pastels in which they are rendered and the act of disrobing itself contrast sharply with the people who are waiting on the right in richly colored clothes of the period. And together the left and right scenes also contrast with the drinking and merry-making of the people in the background.

As in many panels in the Life of John the Baptist cycle, animal life is used significantly. A bird captures one of the fish swimming in the river, as the disciples in the Gospel will become "fishers of men" (Matthew 4:29). The river teems with other fish of many varieties and even a frog, like the river in Ezekiel 47:9 that is referenced in the great apse mosaics at St. John Lateran and St. Paul Outside the Walls. On the other bank, a dog sleeps peacefully.

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Photographed at the oratory by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.