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In this picture St. John is observed in profile, in an erect attitude, his body covered with the skin of a goat, over which is a garment. He raises his hands towards heaven, and is apparently in the act of pronouncing these words of the Evangelist, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

The different groups of this composition are arrayed with considerable art. Near to the Saint, and upon a divided ground, one of the multitude, his head supported by his hands, listens to him with peculiar attention; behind this figure, a person advanced in life, and enveloped in a large cloak, appears absorbed in reflection on the words of the apostle. On the other side, and on the fore ground is a Jew seated, who explains the meaning of his discourse to those who are beside him. Three old men, of a grave and dignified aspect, appear convinced of the mission of the precursor of Jesus Christ. These figures form an admirable contrast to the two men who are upon an elevation, at some distance. By these personages, the painter, no doubt, was desirous of pourtraying the Scribes and Pharisees; on their countenances the expression of excessive hatred and of indignation is strongly depictured. To unite the two great and principal masses, Maratti has placed in the back ground a group of women and children. The landscape is simple and well chosen- at the bottom of the picture, several travellers are beheld.


The variety of attitudes and of expressions, the fine character of the several heads, and the care which the artist has bestowed in the execution, renders this picture highly estimable. It is correctly designed, and the draperies are adjusted in the taste of Raphael. In no composition has Carlo Maratti so happily imbibed the inspiration which the works of that great master are capable to excite. His colouring is tolerably good. Some of his shades are indeed too dark; but this appears to have been rather produced by the influence of time, than by the fault of the artist.

Carlo Maratti was born in 1625, at Camerano, in the March of Ancona. His family was originally of Illyria. The inclination he early discovered for painting, induced his parents to place him in the school of Andrea Sacchi, who considered him his best pupil. Among the great masters, whose works were the object of his studies, he gave the preference to Raphael: his admiration for this consummate artist, arrived to a pitch of enthusiasm. Having been employed to retouch the pictures of the history of Psyche,* he would only make use of crayons, in order, as he said, that some artist, who was worthy of uniting his pencil with that of Raphael, might efface his labour, and substitute his own.

Carlo Maratti was frequently employed by the sovereign pontiffs, in whose intimacy he lived. Clement XI. honoured him with the order of Christ, and gave him a pension. This admirable artist lost his eye-sight a little time previous to his decease, which happened in 1713; he was then 89.

*These frescos are in the Farnese palace at Rome, and were executed by Raphael and his pupils for Augustin Chigi.


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