Sermon of St John Baptist

Sermon of St John Baptist (St John the Baptist Preaching) is an oil on canvas painting by Veronese (Paolo Caliari). It was created in c. 1562 and had 205 x 169 cm dimensions. You can find the artwork in Room XX of the Borghese Gallery in Rome.


Together with the “Sermon of St Anthony of Padua”, also in this room (no.12), this masterpiece, datable to c.1562, was sent by the patriarch of Aquileia to Scipione Borghese in 1607.

Traditionally attributed to Veronese, the artwork was ascribed to his pupil Gian Battista Zelotti by Giovanni Morelli; the attribution to Veronese was later restored, and parallels were found with both the frescoes in the Villa Barbaro at Maser, with which this canvas shares its bright colors, monumental figures, and foreshortening and the “Baptism of the Christ” in the church of the Redentore in Venice.


The extraordinary magnificence of the Venetian fabrics already to be found within the work of Palma il Vecchio is brought to unrivaled perfection by Paolo Veronese. In St John the Baptist Preaching (c. 1562), which messengers the coming of Christ, the figures are wrapped in wonderful oriental silk robes, and three are wearing turbans. Their contrasting reactions to the sermon are reflected in their facial expressions.

The skilful composition of the artwork makes a balance between the weight of the group of figures on the right and the perspective on the left.

Colors and Figures

In the portrayal, the figures, comparable to trees, are orchestrated fanwise from left to right and set in the distinctive zones of recession. The brightly colored clothes of the figures, three of whom, on the right, are wearing oriental headdresses, differentiate from the gloomy colors of the vegetation and are toned down towards the background.

Borghese Gallery in Rome,
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Author: Paolo Veronese

Paolo Veronese

Paolo Caliari, known as Paolo Veronese (1528 – 19 April 1588), was an Italian Renaissance painter based in Venice, most celebrated for large history canvases of religious and mythological subjects, such as The Wedding at Cana and The Feast within the House of Levi.

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