The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Baptism of Christ

Object Details


The Baptism of Christ


Paolo Veronese (Paolo Caliari) and workshop (Italian, 1528 - 1588)




about 1580–1588


Oil on canvas

Object Number:



104.5 × 83.2 cm (41 1/8 × 32 3/4 in.)

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Object Description

Wading carefully through the water of the River Jordan, Christ leans his upper body forward, and extends his arms for balance, his fingertips gently touching Saint John the Baptist's side. Christ’s outstretched arms may prefigure his position on the cross at his crucifixion. He bows his head to receive the purifying water, while above, divine light from the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove illuminates the sky. Three angels sit at his feet, bearing witness to the act, while blue-winged cherubim look down from heaven. The poses of Christ and the Baptist were inspired by a painting of the same subject by Tintoretto, painted for San Silvestro in Venice early in the 1580s.

Paolo Veronese used luminous, highly saturated colors and vibrant light to animate the scene. In the lush landscape, trees frame the composition and lean away to either side to reveal a serene clearing. The theme of the Baptism of Christ is one which Veronese tackled numerous times during his career, and this work is considered the last such example. The early provenance of this work is unknown, but it has been suggested that the relatively modest size of the painting may indicate that it was made for a private chapel, or perhaps for private devotion in a secular setting. Scholars generally agree that the idea and the overall design of this painting were entirely Veronese’s, as was the execution of the main figures, but that other elements, including the putti in the sky, were likely carried out by assistants.

by 1648 - still in 1662

Muselli (Verona, Italy), to Alvarese.


Louis Alvarez
Source: Email from Maria Gilbert, January 12, 2005

- possibly 1829

George Hibbert (London, England) [possibly sold, Hibbert sale, Christie's, London, June 13, 1829, lot 39, to Woodin.]

1829 -

Woodin (London, England)

about 1829/1830 -

Charles Stirling, 1771 - 1830 (Keir, Central, Scotland), possibly by inheritance to his nephew, William Stirling-Maxwell.

by 1856 - 1878

Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, ninth Bart., Kt., 1818 - 1878 (Keir, Central, Scotland), probably by inheritance to his brother, Archibald Stirling, 1878.

1878 - 1931

Gen. Archibald Stirling of Keir, British, 1867 - 1931 (Keir, Central, Scotland), by inheritance to William Joseph Stirling, 1931.
Source: Seen by Waterhouse, 1930.

1931 - 1963

Lt. Col. William Joseph Stirling of Keir, 1911 - 1983 (Keir, Dunblane, Scotland) [sold, Stirling sale, Sotheby's, London, July 3, 1963, lot 48.], sold to Julius H. Weitzner and Hallsborough Gallery, 1963.
Source: Seen by Waterhouse in 1937.

1963 - 1970s,
1963 - still in 1975

Julius H. Weitzner, 1896 - 1986 (London, England) and Hallsborough Gallery (London, England, New York, New York), sold to Virginia Duffield, after 1975.

after 1975 - 1979

Virginia Duffield (Geneva, Switzerland), sold through P & D Colnaghi & Co. Ltd. (New York) to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1979.

The Grand Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (October 19, 1974 to January 5, 1975)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), October 19, 1974 to January 5, 1975
Art Vénitien en Suisse et au Liechtenstein (September 13 to November 5, 1978)
  • Musée d'art et d'histoire de la Ville de Genève (Geneva), September 13 to November 5, 1978
The Art of Paolo Veronese: 1528 - 1588 (November 13, 1988 to February 20, 1989)
  • National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), November 13, 1988 to February 20, 1989
The Age of Titian: Venetian Renaissance Art from Scottish Collections (August 5 to December 5, 2004)
  • National Gallery of Scotland (Edinburgh), August 5 to December 5, 2004
Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice (March 15, 2009 to January 5, 2010)
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, March 15 to August 16, 2009
  • Musée du Louvre (Paris), September 14, 2009 to January 5, 2010
Paolo Veronese: A Master and His Workshop in Renaissance Venice (December 7, 2012 to April 14, 2013)
  • The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art (Sarasota), December 7, 2012 to April 14, 2013
Renaissance in Venice: Painting in the Age of Titian (February 13 to May 26, 2019)
  • Städel Museum (Frankfurt am Main), February 13 to May 26, 2019

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