Saint John the Baptist was, by all accounts, a rough character, living in the wilderness on locusts and honey. But Italian and Spanish artists of the 1600s often depicted the Biblical figure as an innocent child, and this painting by Joshua Reynolds was inspired by those Old Masters. Yet the playful, almost infantile nature of his Child Baptist is unique. This was part of a group of paintings that Reynolds called his “fancy pictures,” studies of young children in the style of mythological, allegorical, or religious individuals.
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