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The Birth and Naming of Saint John the Baptist

Artist:
Sano di Pietro (Ansano di Pietro di Mencio) (Italian, Siena 1405–1481 Siena)
Date:
1450–60
Medium:
Tempera and gold on wood
Dimensions:
Overall, with engaged (modern) frame, 9 5/8 x 18 7/8 in. (24.4 x 47.9 cm); painted surface 8 1/8 x 16 7/8 in. (20.6 x 42.9 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number:
1975.1.44
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 956
This panel combines two episodes: the birth of Saint John the Baptist and his naming by his father, Zacharias, portrayed writing in the foreground. Behind him, framed by delicate colonnettes, is Elizabeth, the cousin of the Virgin Mary, who reclines in bed, having just given birth to Saint John. Although the original location of the present painting is unknown, and it cannot be associated with any other known panels, it is likely that it formed part of a predella that portrayed scenes of the Life of Saint John the Baptist. Sano di Pietro’s panel was inspired by Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s fresco depicting the Birth of the Virgin (façade of the Spedale della Scala).
Earl of Ashburnham; Frank Channing Smith Jr., Worcester, MA, by 1925; M. Knoedler & Co., New York, 1952; Julius Weitzner, 1954. Acquired by Robert Lehman before 1959.
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