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The Baptism of Christ
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This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.

Paolo Veronese
Italian, 1580 - 1588
Oil on canvas
41 1/4 x 34 3/4 in.
79.PA.19

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In a difficult, graceful pose, Christ leans his upper body forward, his arms extended so that one reaches towards the viewer and the other touches Saint John the Baptist's side. His head is bowed and his torso is muscular and sculpturally modeled. Standing on the shore of the Jordan River, Saint John leans back slightly as he pours water onto Christ's head. Above, divine light from the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove illuminates Christ. Below, three angels in various poses witness the act.

Paolo Veronese used rich, luminous color and vibrant light to animate the scene. In the lush landscape, trees frame the composition and lean away to either side to reveal the open area in the middle. Saturated pinks, greens, and other high-pitched colors enrich the natural world surrounding the holy figures. Behind, the sky is broken into areas of color: blue near the horizon, pink in the center, and gray-green near the top.