Discover entertaining essays on a wide variety of artworks from our extensive collections in the section Art Stories.
Nowadays, and here in Florence, I dispense with my throne. Humbly I sit upon nature’s earth, though in a slightly elevated position.
Jesus has only recently taken his first steps on the soft grass, he treads elegantly as I support him lightly.
How soft and warm he feels.
His delicate hair is growing in nicely, his skin shimmers ivory white with his reddish cheeks providing a good match.
Adroitly I conceal what I sit upon, for here harmony is more important than earth-bound realism.
My left foot completes the triangle that I form together with little John the Baptist.
Though wagging tongues may assert that this is the only reason he is portrayed with us in the picture, I fondly recall the ancient legend according to which young John met us upon our return from Egypt.
In the desert.
I was most certainly created foremost as a work of art, even though I remain a finely executed devotional image.
You see us in a softly drawn landscape with short grass that is perhaps interlaced with moss, bushes, a poppy flower, strawberries, trees, a lake on whose shore a town may be discerned, hills and mountains. An invisible sun illuminates the scene from a pale blue sky dotted with fair-weather clouds.
Jesus and John the Baptist share a toy: it is the cross upon which my son will die.
And it is pointed towards me.
I try not to think about his fate. Our close triangular relationship will stand the test of time.