St. John the Baptist

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After Michelozzo
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25-27 May 1914, lot 15 (as Italian, 16th century), sale halted and all remaining lots, possibly including the present, withdrawn; Count Andrea di Robilant, Venice; his sale, Collezione del Palazzo dei Dogi Mocenigo di S. Samuele a Venezia, Galleria Bellini, Florence, 22-27 May 1933, lot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.

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.