The J. Paul Getty Museum

Saint John the Baptist

Object Details


Saint John the Baptist


Agnolo Bronzino (Italian, 1503 - 1572)




about 1542–1545


Oil on panel

Object Number:



154 × 53 cm (60 5/8 × 20 7/8 in.)

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Object Description

Bronzino depicts Saint John the Baptist's muscular figure in a restricted space, his torso twisted to accommodate the panel’s vertical format which creates a series of strong diagonal accents, zigzagging the length of the painting. This artificial, serpentine pose marks Bronzino’s move away from naturalism toward a more abstract elongation of forms and more stylized figures, a shift which occurred in the 1540s.

The long, vertical format of this work corresponds to its original function as part of a triptych altarpiece in the private chapel of Eleonora di Toledo in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. Bronzino decorated the chapel between 1540 and 1565, as a celebration of the Medici dynasty. The larger, central panel of the original altarpiece (now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’Archéologie, Besançon, France) depicted the Lamentation, which was flanked by the present painting on the left, and Saint Cosmas on the right (a fragment of which is today in a private collection). The saints were chosen by Bronzino for their relevance to the Medici—Saint John was the patron saint of Florence, while Saint Cosmas was the name saint of Eleonora's husband, Cosimo de' Medici.

about 1542/1545 - still in 1560

Palazzo della Signoria (Florence, Italy), commissioned from the artist by Eleonora di Toledo for the Cappella di Eleonora diToledo; from 1553 located in the Guardaroba Granducale Mediceo.

by 1948 -

Dudley Wallis (London, England)

1950 - 1973

Neuhaus (Lima, Peru), sold to Gilberto Algranti, 1973.


Gilberto Algranti (Milan, Italy), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1973.

Fontainebleau e la Maniera Italiana (July 26 to October 12, 1952)
  • Museo di Palazzo Reale (Naples), July 26 to October 12, 1952
Selezione 1973 (1973)
  • Palazzo Vigoni-Mainopi (Milan), 1973
Bronzino: Artist and Poet at the Court of the Medici (September 24, 2010 to January 23, 2011)
  • Palazzo Strozzi (Florence), September 24, 2010 to January 23, 2011
Maniera: Mannerism in Medici Florence (February 24 to June 5, 2016)
  • Städel Museum (Frankfurt am Main), February 24 to June 5, 2016

Prima Stanza della Guardaroba, Archivio di Stato di Firenze, 1553, G. 28 (inventory of 1553).

Guardaroba Medicea, Archivio di Stato di Firenze, 1560, filza45, fol. 59r (inventory of 1560).

Vasari, Giorgio. Le vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori ed architettori. Gaetano Milanesi, ed. 9 vols. (1568; Florence: G. C. Sansoni, 1878-85), vol. 7 (1881), p. 597.

Conti, Cosimo. La prima reggia di Cosimo I de' Medici nel Palazzo già della Signoria di Firenze (Florence: Giuseppe Pellas,1893), pp. 139-40.

Vasari, Giorgio. Le vite de' più eccelenti pittori, scultori ed architettori. 9 vols. (Florence: G. C. Sansoni, 1906), vol. 7, pp. 596-97.

Zeri, Federico. "Agnolo Bronzino: il 'San Giovanni Battista' della Cappella di Palazzo Vecchio." Paragone 27 (March 1952), pp. 57-59, fig. 25.

Bologna, Fernando, and Raffaello Causa. Fontainebleau e la maniera italiana, exh. cat. (Naples: Palazzo Reale, with Sansoni, 1952), pp. 10, 96, no. 12, fig. 12.

Emiliani, Andrea. Il Bronzino (Busto Arsizio: Bramante, 1960), pp. 73, 81, under no. 53, no. 55, ill.

Emiliani, Andrea. "Il Bronzino e la Cappella di Eleonora da Toldeo in Palazzo Vecchio." Acropoli 2 (1960-61), pp. 135-36.

Cox-Rearick, Janet. "Les Dessins de Bronzino pour la Chapelle d'Eleonora au Palazzo Vecchio." Revue de l'Art 14 (1971), p. 9.

Smyth, Craig Hugh. Bronzino as Draughtsman (New York: J. J. Augustin, 1971), p. 54.

Beck, James H. "Bronzino nell'Inventario Mediceo del 1560 nell'occasione del quattrocentesimo anniversario della morte." Antichità Viva 11, no. 3 (1972), p. 10 (inventory of 1560).

Baccheschi, Edi. L'opera completa del Bronzino (Milan: Rizzoli, 1973), pp. 93-94, no. 48.

Nicolson, Benedict. "Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions." Burlington Magazine 115, no. 843 (June 1973), p. 404, fig. 77.

Algranti, Gilberto. Selezione 1973, exh. cat. (Milan: n.p., 1973), unpaginated, ill.

Allegri, Ettore, and Alessandro Cecchi. Palazzo Vecchio e I Medici: Guida Storica (Florence: Studio per Edizioni Scelte, 1980), pp. 21, 25, 28.

McCorquodale, Charles. Bronzino (London: Jupiter Books, 1981), p. 72.

Tátrai, Vilmos. Cinquecento Paintings of Central Italy (Budapest: Corvina Kiadó, 1983), unpaginated, under no. 33.

Cox-Rearick, Janet. "A 'St. Sebastian' by Bronzino." Burlington Magazine 1008, vol. 129 (March 1987), pp. 158-59, fig. 5.

Cox-Rearick, Janet. "Bronzino's 'Crossing of the Red Sea' and 'Moses Appointing Joshua': Prolegomena to the Chapel of Eleonora di Toledo." The Art Bulletin 69, no. 1 (March 1987), pp. 45-67.

Cox-Rearick, Janet. Bronzino's Chapel of Eleonora in the Palazzo Vecchio (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), pp. 14, 79, 147-49, 191, 265-66, 268-70, 330, fig. 10.

Edelstein, Bruce L. Review of Bronzino's Chapel of Eleonora by Janet Cox-Rearick. The Art Bulletin 76, no. 1 (March 1994), p. 172-73.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 17, ill.

Pillod, Elizabeth. "The Life of Bronzino." In The Drawings of Bronzino, exh. cat. Carmen C. Bambach, ed. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Yale University Press, 2010), pp. 3, 248, pl. 25.

Costamagna, Philippe. "The Portraits of Bronzino." In The Drawings of Bronzino, exh. cat. Carmen C. Bambach, ed. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Yale University Press, 2010), p. 59.

Bambach, Carmen C., ed. The Drawings of Bronzino, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Yale University Press, 2010), p. 144n4, entry by Carmen C. Bambach; p. 184, under no. 44, entry by George R. Goldner.

Falciani, Carlo, and Antonio Natali, eds. Bronzino: Artist and Poet at the Court of the Medici, exh. cat. (Florence: Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, with Mandragora, 2010), pp. 120-21, no. II.4, ill., entry by Antonio Geremicca; p. 122, under no. II.5, entry by Philippe Costamagna.

Natali, Antonio. "The Dukes and the Eucharist: The Chapel of Eleonora of Toledo." In Bronzino: Artist and Poet at the Court of the Medici, exh. cat. Carlo Falciani and Antonio Natali, eds. (Florence: Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, with Mandragora, 2010), pp. 110-12, fig. 46.

Fredericksen, Burton B. The Burdens of Wealth: Paul Getty and His Museum (Bloomington: Archway Publishing, 2015), p. 149.

Eclercy, Bastian, ed., Maniera: Pontormo, Bronzino and Medici Florence, exh. cat. (Frankfurt: Städel Museum, with Prestel, 2016), pp. 234-235, no. 103, ill., entry by Fabien Jonietz.