The J. Paul Getty Museum

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

Object Number:



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

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Object Description

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, highlight the saint’s role as Christ’s forerunner, who announced his coming to the world. Standing against a gold background and enclosed in a trefoil frame, the Baptist wears a hair shirt that represents his ascetic life of prayer, while his gesture alludes to his role as preacher. With carefully curved brushstrokes, Luca di Tommè described the woolly texture of the 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 also predicted the coming of the Messiah, occupy the spandrels, or upper corners, of the frame. This panel was once part of an altarpiece, possibly for a Vallombrosan monastery church in or near the artist’s native 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, Jr., Sherwood Anthony. Luca di Tommè: A Sienese Fourteenth-Century Painter (Carbondale: 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.

Freuler, Gaudenz. “L’eredità di Pietro Lorenzetti verso il 1350: novità per Biagio di Goro, Niccolò di Sozzo e Luca di Tommé." Nuovi studi 2, no. 4 (1997), pp. 23-25, fig. 30 & 33, ill.

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