Saint John the Baptist

Object Details


Saint John the Baptist


Luca di Tommè (Italian, active 1355 - 1389)




Siena, Tuscany, Italy (Place created)


late 14th century


Tempera and gold leaf on panel


Panel: 99.7 x 48.9 x 7.6 cm (39 1/4 x 19 1/4 x 3 in.)

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Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh [away the sin of the world]. These words, inscribed in Latin on the scroll held by Saint John the Baptist, announce the coming of Christ. Standing against a gold background and enclosed in a Gothic trefoil frame, Saint John wears a hair shirt that represents his ascetic life of prayer and penance. Using carefully curved brushstrokes, Luca di Tommè described the woolly texture of Saint John's shirt and the unruly curliness of his hair and beard. Patterned punch marks form the decorative halo around the saint's head. The Old Testament prophets Elijah and David, who predicted the coming of the Messiah, occupy the upper corners of the frame. This panel was once part of an altarpiece, possibly for a church in Siena.

- 1972

Private Collection [sold, Christie's, London, March 24, 1972, lot 78, to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]


Antichità Viva 11, no. 1 (1972) p. 71, ill.

Christie, Manson & Woods, London. Fine Pictures by Old Masters. March 24, 1972 pp. 36-37, lot 78, ill.

La Fondazione Roberto Longhi a Firenze (Milan: Electa Editrice, 1980) p. 242, under no. 22, entry by Silvia d'Argenio.

Il gotico a Siena: miniature pitture oreficerie oggetti d'arte, exh. cat. (Siena: Palazzo Pubblico, with Centro Di, 1982) p. 278, under no. 103, entry by Giulietta Chelazzi Dini.

Fehm, Sherwood Anthony Jr. Luca di Tommè: A Sienese Fourteenth-Century Painter (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1986) pp. 26, 35n21, 151, no. 52, ill.

Benedictis, Cristina de. La Pittura Senese 1330-1370 (Florence: Salimbeni Libreria Editrice, 1979) pp. 67n80, 87-88.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) p. 77, ill.

Palladino, Pia. Art and Devotion in Siena After 1350: Luca di Tommè and Niccolò di Buonaccorso (San Diego: Timken Museum of Art, 1997) pp. 40, 42, fig. 42.

Sotheby's, London. Old Master Paintings: Evening Sale. July 8, 2009 pp. 58-59, under lots 20-22, ill.