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Saint John the Baptist Preaching

Artist Jacopo Palma, il giovane (Italian, ca. 1548–1628)
Title Saint John the Baptist Preaching
Date Ca. 1620
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions Stretcher: 63 3/4 x 94 1/2 in. (161.9 x 240 cm)
Framed: 73 1/2 × 104 1/2 × 4 3/8 in. (186.7 × 265.4 × 11.1 cm)
Credit Line Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Henry R. Hope, Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Accession Number 64.129

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About this Work

Saint John the Baptist was a popular subject in Renaissance painting, and is typically shown baptizing Christ in the River Jordan. In this more unusual depiction, he preaches to a large group, his right hand indicating the river in the background where the baptism will occur. The twisting female figure at the left draws attention to the standing woman behind her, presumed to be the painting’s donor. The large scale of this painting suggests she commissioned it for a church, confraternity, or charitable hospice. Jacopo Palma, a follower of the great sixteenth-century Venetian painters Titian, Veronese, and Tintoretto, became the most esteemed artist in Venice following Tintoretto’s death in 1594.

1970, Gift to the Indiana University Art Museum from Henry Radford Hope (1905–1989), Bloomington, IN

1963–1970, Collection of Dr. and Mrs. Henry Hope, Bloomington, IN (purchase from Julius H. Weitzner)

Before 1963, Julius H. Weitzner (1896–1986), New York, NY [1]

Possibly: ca. 1715, sale, Collection of Peter Anthony Motteux (1663–1718), London, England (sales location unknown; lot. no. 0025, as “Saint John” by Jacopo Negretti) [2]


[1] Per Stefania Rinaldi, Palma il Giovane, 1548–1628, Designi e Depinti (Milan: Electo, 1990; cat. rais. no. 31)

[2] Palma produced thirty-seven known paintings of Saint John the Baptist (including three where he is preaching), as well as twenty-five known paintings of John the Evangelist. The Getty Provenance Index lists just one sale of a Palma painting described only as a “Saint John,” which took place in London between 1715 and 1718. This was a “sale of pictures” from the collection of author, art dealer, and textiles merchant Sir Anthony Peter Motteux, who relocated to England from France in 1685; the buyer is not recorded. For now, the possibility remains that Motteux could have been the former owner of our painting (for contemporary accounts of the Motteux sale, see for example Henri van Laun, A Short History of the late Sir Antony Peter Motteux, London: Messrs. J.C. Nimmo and Bain, 1714, pp. 38–39).

Provenance research is ongoing for this and many other items in the Eskenazi Museum of Art permanent collection. For more information about the provenance of this artwork, please contact the department curator with specific questions.

January 27–March 17, 1991, "A Wonderful Discernment: Selections from the Hope Collection", Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, IN

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"Saint John the Baptist Preaching | Collections Online." Collections Online. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2024.