Sebastiano Ricci was a prolific draughtsman, with a style that slightly varied depending on the period and city or country of his residence. Unlike many of his fellow Italian artists, Ricci traveled not only through Northern and Southern Italy, but also to Austria, France, and England. This drawing features St. John the Baptist preaching before a crowd of highly individualized figures. St. John the Baptist, in tattered drapery, leans against a rock as he gesticulates with his left hand. He appears to direct his attention to the central bearded man who sits in contemplation with his arms crossed. The figures' bodies are incised with controlled contours, shaded with a delicate application of brown wash. This drawing might be compared to a study for a seated St. John the Baptist, with left arm raised, in the Galleria dell'Accademia, Venezia (Annalisa Scarpa, Sebastiano Ricci: catalogue raisonné. Milano: Bruno Alfieri Editore, 2005, p. 637, fig. 596).
McCrindle, Joseph F., former owner.