Saint John the Baptist Preaching
Follower of Vincenzo Foppa (possibly Nicolo da Varallo)
Italian (Lombard School), active second half of the 15th century (1445–1489)
Tempera painting on fruitwood panel
Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation
Although the artist for this panel has not been officially identified, it is widely accepted to be the work of Lombard artist Niccolo da Varallo. Varallo was actually more accomplished as a glazier than painter, going on to create large scale stained glass pieces for the Cathedral of Milan. St. John the Baptist preaching is not only unusual in its more medieval, folk-art style, but in its symbolic content. Along with the main figure of John the Baptist, this painting is unprecedented in showing the Christ Child and Salome (the daughter of King Herod who asked that John the Baptist be executed) together in one work. These two child figures hold a moth, which can symbolize resurrection and transformation. The surrounding figures also carry special meanings. For example, the three men standing to the right of St. John seem to represent the various stages of life, progressing from a youthful blonde to a bearded, elderly man.