The Baptism of Christ

Guido Reni, The Baptism of Christ, circa 1622. Oil on canvas, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Guido Reni (1575−1642) was an Italian painter active in Rome during the high baroque period of the 17th century. He established himself as a favored artist for the wealthy Borghese family as well as for Pope Paul V. Reni rarely executed portraits, the bread and butter for artists of this period, and instead focused on religious themes. Here we see Reni’s mature style, emphasizing mastery of composition and perspective. In the foreground, Christ bows his head as John the Baptist pours from the baptismal cup. John seemingly rises over the scene from the banks of the River Jordan. The two form an arch that frames two angels holding Christ’s crimson robes. In the background, the blue sky and clouds provide a backdrop for the dove of the Holy Spirit as it oversees the events.

Guido Reni, The Baptism of Christ. Oil on canvas, ca. 1622. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Associated with a deity; exhibiting religious importance; set apart from ordinary (i.e. "profane") things.

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