The other painter behind da Vinci’s “The Baptism of Christ”

The Baptism of Christ is a famous painting by Leonardo, so it may surprise you to learn that it was most painted by another artist, da Vinci’s teacher. It’s in interesting bit of art history of which some art “appreciationists” are unaware.

First, let us read a short message from Fr. James on this Sunday celebrating the Baptism of Christ Jesus:

Greetings! The peace of the Lord be always with you.

Sunday January 12 , 2020, is the first Sunday after Epiphany. On this Sunday we celebrate the baptism of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ.In Mathew 3: 16-17 we read: 

 “As soon as Jesus was baptized ,he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened , and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said,’ This is my Son , whom I love; with him  I am well pleased.’ “

At Jesus baptism God declared and  manifested him as his beloved Son. The Spirit descended and rested upon him anointing him as the Son of God. In Jesus baptism we see the unity of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus the Son of God is the only one who has the power to make us God’s children.

At baptism we are entered into God’s covenant and adopted as God’s Children through faith in Jesus Christ the beloved Son of God. We read in John 1:11-12.   

“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.Yet to all who did receive him , to those who believed in his name , he gave the right to become children of God.” 

Are you happy that through faith in Jesus the Son of God you are now a child of God and inheritor of God’s kingdom?

May God help us to live a joyful life as God’s Children and boldly confess Jesus Jesus Christthe Son of God as our Lord and Savior.

Fr. James

da Vinci’s “The Baptism of Christ”

Andrea del Verrochio, later going simply by “Verrochio,” was an Italian painter, sculptor, and metalworker (goldsmith). He was the master of an artists workshop in Florence. Perhaps his most famous work is a sculpture known as the Equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni located in Venice (shown below).

Verrochio , who was Leonardo da Vinci’s master painted The Baptism of Christ (pictured below) at his studio in Italy. Da Vinci only collaborated on the project, finishing “the details of some parts of the painting, particularly the angel. The painting was an altarpiece commissioned by the monks of the San Salvi Church near Florence. ” []

“The Baptism of Jesus”

According to art historian Vasari :

Verrocchio had already done the main work. Leonardo painted an angel who was holding some garments; and despite his youth, he executed it in such a manner that his angel was far better that the figures painted by Verrocchio. This was the reason why Andrea would never touch colours again, he was so ashamed that a boy understood their use better than he did.”

“The painting depicts St. John the Baptist during the baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ as according to the Gospels of Luke, Mark and Matthew. Two angels on the left side of the painting complete the four figures in the artwork. The scene illustrated by the painting includes God’s extended arms painted with golden rays and dove with its wings widely spread, a halo with cruciform is painted on top of Jesus’ head and another halo on top of St. John the Baptist. The two angels are holding Jesus’ clothes. The angel on the left side is the part done by Leonardo da Vinci. He used oil, which was at that time a new medium in painting.” []

At Christ’s Baptism…

If we turn our attention to the very top of the painting, The Baptism of Jesus” (zoomed in and pictured below), something very important stands out…

As the painting depicts, when John the Baptist poured water upon the head of Christ and as Christ prayed, “… the heaven was opened , and the Holy Ghost descended in a boldly shape like a dove upon him , and a voice came from heaven , which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.”  (Luke 3:21-22).      

Not only is the Holy Trinity present at our own baptisms, but our prayers, too, open the heavens for God to descend into our lives and into our hearts.

Pray and you will have an epiphany (manifestation) of God today. God the Holy Spirit will descend upon you and He will tell you who you are in the sight of God.

“Thou art my beloved Son ; in thee I am well pleased.”               

Pray and listen to the voice of God today.      

May God bless you as you know that you are a beloved Child of God and He will not withhold anything good from you. 

Together, let us pray:

“Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into His Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.† ” [adapted from the Book of Common Prayer]

Leave a Reply