Audio File length: 2.43
English / USA Language: English / USA

The painting St. John the Baptist is probably the most joyful image of all of Caravaggio's paintings. The boy's position is almost the same as the "ignudi", or naked, men painted by Michelangelo on the vault of the Sistine Chapel, but without the robust muscles that characterized the athletes portrayed by Buonarroti. The boy is usually identified as a young Saint John the Baptist; however, the animal accompanying the Baptist is usually a lamb, and not a ram as is depicted here. So it has been suggested that the portrait is instead of Isaac, who is understandably happy to have just escaped being sacrificed and is embracing the animal that is about to die in his place!

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