Lorenzo and Jacopo Salimbeni, The Life of John the Baptist

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

One of the most notable image cycles of the life of John the Baptist adorns three walls of the oratory. (The fourth is a powerful Crucifixion by the same artists.) Below are thumbnails that will take you to most of the panels of this remarkable work. Note how the portraiture changes as the panels progress. In the fifth panel John is a child, in the sixth a beardless youth in a camel-skin tunic. The seventh gives him a beard as he baptizes the crowds, and then the Baptism of Christ panel adds a red mantle. He continues to wear the mantle in the following panel, when he is denouncing Herod, and in the 11th panel it becomes the shroud in which his disciples wrap his headless body.

Click on any of the thumbnail pictures to see full-size images with explanations of their theological emphases and their sources in scripture, hagiography, and patristic literature.


1. The Annunciation to Zechariah

2. The Visitation: Mary arrives
3. The Birth and Circumcision of John the Baptist
4. The Visitation: Mary departs
5. The Young John Meets the Holy Family in the Wilderness
6. The Ecce Agnus Dei ("Behold the Lamb of God")
7. Baptizing the crowds
8. Baptizing Jesus
9. Denouncing Herod
10. Herod's Feast
11. John's Body is Taken Away
12. The Body is entombed
Madonna and Child with John
Portrait of the Saint
More about St. John the Baptist