St. John, clad in an animal skin and cloak, holds in his right hand a shell, symbolic of the baptism of Christ. This cast is one of a group of at least five known variants of this figure, including ones in the Kimbell Art Museum, Ft. Worth; the St. Louis Art Museum; and a private collection on deposit at the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh. It is likely that these figures, in a deliberately archaizing style and recalling the work of Michelozzo and Donatello, were cast at the very end of the sixteenth or beginning of the seventeenth century.
St. John the Baptist
Italy, late 16th century
22 3/16 x 10 1/4 inches (563 x 260 mm); height with base: 41 inches (630 mm)
Bequest of Alice Tully, 1996.
C&E Canessa (Ercole Canessa; 1868-1929), Naples; Max Lyon (d. 1913?), Paris, ca. 1885; his sale, London, Christie's, 18-20 and 25-27 May 1914, lot 15 (as Italian, 16th century), sale halted and all remaining lots, possibly including the present, withdrawn; Count Andrea di Robilant, Venice; his sale, Collezione del Palazzo dei Dogi Mocenigo di S. Samuele a Venezia, Galleria Bellini, Florence, 22-27 May 1933, lot 234, pl. XXVIII (as Arte Veneziana del XVII Sec.); Alice Tully (1902-1993), New York.