"The Baptism of Christ"


The Baptism of Christ is a famous work of art by Leonardo Da Vinci with his instructor, Andrea del Verrocchio. Leonardo was only 23 when he worked on this piece of art. This piece was originally intended for the monks of San Salvi, a Catholic monastery in eastern Florence. The Baptism of Christ painting was a commission and was used as an altarpiece.

This piece has been carefully inspected over time. For one, although it is not noticeable, the drawing of the angels is actually very different from the original sketch. The angels in the painting were actually Leonardo's main contribution to the painting. Verrocchio originally sketched out much of the portrait, but as it turns out, the final product of the angel in the portrait was primarily Da Vinci's work, displaying that Da Vinci began his own style of art quite early in his career. In fact, if you look at the painting carefully, the angel on the left has a faintly noticeable differing style from that of the rest of the painting. Additionally, most of the painting was done with egg tempura, which was an older, more traditional style for its time, whereas da Vinci's portions of the artwork were done in oil, which was fairly new for its time.

The painting itself includes a portrait of Jesus Christ getting baptized by his cousin, John the Baptist. There are two angels standing off to the side, one looking closely at Jesus Christ, the other seemingly uninterested, and turned away. Above, there is a dove, radiating just above Christ, and although it is cut off in this image, in the original painting, God's hands are extended just above the dove, as if representing that God is sending the Holy Spirit down onto Jesus Christ during his baptism. During Catholic baptisms, it is believed that the Holy Spirit descends on the person getting baptized, and God is extending his forgiveness and understanding.

Evidently, this was Verrocchio's last painting before he turned his artistic focus to sculptures and three-dimensional artwork. However, for Leonardo, this was one of his first works of art, in which he began to explore his style under the eyes of a mentor. Humorously, there are theories saying that Verrocchio quit painting after this because Leonardo's contributions to the painting were much superior to that of Verrocchio's, and Verrocchio ended up feeling quite embarrassed that his talent couldn't match that of Leonardo's.

Works Cited:

Loadstar. Leonardo DaVinci, www.lairweb.org.nz/leonardo/baptism.html.

“The Baptism of Christ by Leonardo Da Vinci Facts & History.” Totally History, 10 Apr. 2013, totallyhistory.com/the-baptism-of-christ/.

Image Cited:

The Baptism of Christ. Digital image. Loadstar's Lair. https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lairweb.org.nz%2Fle....

Associated Place(s)


  • Leonardo da Vinci

Image Date: 

circa. Pre-colonial