John the Baptist in the wilderness is also depicted through regular attributes. A cross with a banner contains the Biblical quotation Ecce Agnus Dei. The head of the lamb is indicated in the bottom zone of the painting. The saint is naked to the waist, his hips are covered with a fur, and a red cloak has slipped next to him. The scene is interpreted in a night setting with a narrow strip of light on the horizon.
The figure of the saint takes up almost the entire area of the canvas. An almost identical figure was frequently reproduced in the paintings from the workshop of Munich artist, Johann Carl Loth, a naturalized Venetian. The pose of the model is obviously studied and created based on a first hand viewing.
This extremely popular depiction of John the Baptist pointing to the lamb originated through the reduction of a difficult, multi-figural iconographic type. In its original meaning it appeared in the scene of John the Baptist meeting priests and Levites in the wilderness, as we can see in the paintings by Loth in the Halbreiter Collection in Icking and in the Koeliker Collection in Milan. The scene was so popular and important that Pierre Étienne Moitte (1722–1780) popularized it in graphic reproductions.
Zuzana Ludiková ●
LUDIKOVÁ, Zuzana - BURAN, Dušan. Talianska maľba = Italian Painting. Bratislava : Slovenská národná galéria, 2013. 242 strán. ISBN 9788080591748.