2. Lucas van Leyden
(1494-1533)

The Baptism of Christ in the Jordan

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van Leyden, The Baptism of Christ

The Baptism of Christ in the Jordan

Engraving, ca. 1510, Bartsch 40, Hollstein 40, National Gallery 28 ii/ii, 140 x 180 mm. A fine, dark and sharp impression on laid paper with the apparent watermark of a Gothic P with 4-petaled flower (Briquet 8636?, Leyden, 1509-1518), trimmed to the borderline which is visible all around; some light stains verso showing through and possible surface dirt. Hollstein originally proposed that the work was a copy (of identical dimensions) because the crown of the seated child’s head has less lines than the original and there were scratches not in the original. Jacobowitz, in the National Gallery catalog, described it rather as a second state of the original, reworked by Lucas himself. Certainly, every detail of the first state is here, with some lines being slightly weaker and others strengthened by rework. The image is far from the usual conception of the subject, the baptism itself being relegated to the middle ground, while the emphasis is on the varied assortment of onlookers of every social class and in a wide variety of dress. One of Lucas’ best- loved prints.

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