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St JOHN THE BAPTIST
Drawing (two-sided?). Ink and gouache (brown, dark brown, brownish red, black ink)
96.5 x 69 cm.
The drawing, in satisfactory condition, comprises nine sheets of industrial paper glued together. The inner part of the drawing is damaged (creases, wrinkles, tears, holes).
St John the Baptist is depicted in strictly frontal pose, his right hand raised in supplication and holding an open scroll, while in his left is a stave topped by across. Half-naked, with emaciated torso and unkempt hair, he is the par excellence hermit of the wilderness. The representation is enlivened by gouache in shades of brown, while abbreviated notes on the colours reveal the role and use of the drawing as a model to be copied.
The rendering of the Forerunner half-naked, with the sheepskin leaving the right side of his torso bare, appears in Palaiologan icons and wall-paintings in many variations. It was adopted by Italian art of the fifteenth-sixteenth, while parallels are noted in contemporary Italo-Cretan works. In the latter years of the Post-Byzantine period it occurs more rarely, as a counter-loan from Western art, since in this period variations of his depiction with wings, particularly popular in Cretan works, prevail. Representations similar to the drawing are widely spread in Russia during the sixteenth century, while they are occasionally encountered in Greece. The closest iconographic example is an icon in the Averoff Collection (17th century), which is attributed to Emmanuel Tzanes. Representations of St John the Baptist similar to the drawing are encountered in despotic icons in three Epirot monuments, the church of St Athanasios at Ioannina (19th century), the katholikon of the monastery of St Nicholas at Frangades (1863) and the church of St George at Negades (undated). The drawing is identified with the last not only in the general rendering of the figure but also in the details. The overt naturalism in the portrait features and the plasticity of the volumes ascribe the Negada icon to the Neo- Russian currents in religious painting in the nineteenth century. The close iconographic and stylistic affinity between the icon and the drawing permit the dating of the latter to the end of the nineteenth century.
[ME]TA[NOEI]/TE [HΓ]/ΓIKE ΓΑΡ/Η ΒΑΣΙΛΕΙ/Α ΤΩΝ/ΟΥΡΑΝΩΝ (Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand) (Matthew 3:2, 4:17). Ερμηνεία 1909, 217.
Βοκοτόπουλος 1990, nο. 1, with bibliography and various examples. Θησαυροί του Αγίου Όρους 1997, no. 2.19 (E.N. Tsigaridas). The type of the half-naked Baptist is already encountered in miniature paintings in manuscripts of the eleventh century, see Κατσιώτη 1998, figs 39, 40, 42,
45-47, 50-51, 55-62.
Cf. Τσιτουρίδου 1986, 80-81, pls 16, 134.
See Κατσελάκη 2003, fig. 9, nos 27-28. Gemiildegalerie Berlin 1999, nos 852, 2181, 2298 . Ζουμπουκλάκης 1992, Appendix with figs.
N. Χατζηδάκη 1993, nos 28, 32. Κατσελάκη 2003, 283-285, figs 1,4.
Lafontaine-Dosogne 1978, 121-144. Ζουμπουλάκης 1992, 16ff. Μητσάνη 1996, no. 12. Μητσάνη 1999, nο. 65.
Κάλλος της Μορφής 1995, nο. 34 (N. Markina).
Bασιλάκη 2000β, 127, fig. 180.
Τσέφος 2001, pl. 18.