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Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness

A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.


ca. 1622


Attributed to Diego Velázquez
Spanish, 1599–1660

About this artwork

This painting depicts a young Saint John the Baptist living as a hermit in the wilderness. His cross of reeds, pointing gesture, and the nearby lamb refer to his role as a prophet foretelling the coming of Christ, the so-called “lamb of God,” in the New Testament.

Previously attributed to an unknown Sevillian artist, this painting has recently been recognized as the work of a young Diego Velázquez. The treatment of the saint is more idealized than figures in Velázquez’s earliest work, suggesting that it may have been made after his brief visit to Madrid in 1622, where Italian paintings in the royal collection exposed him to new ways of depicting the human figure.


On View, Gallery 211


Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Diego Velázquez


Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness


Seville (Artist's nationality)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas


175.3 × 152.5 cm (69 × 60 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Barbara Deering Danielson

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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