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John the Baptist

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Image of John the Baptist

Jimmy Lee Sudduth (aka Jimmie Lee Sudduth)
American, 1910–2007

John the Baptist


Object Type: Painting
Creation Place: North America, American, Alabama
42 in. x 25 in. x 1/8 in. (106.68 cm x 63.5 cm x 0.32 cm)
Medium and Support: House paint and earth pigments on plywood
Accession Number: 2005.0002.0001

Credit Line: Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase

Sudduth did not paint a large number of religious subjects, but rare examples such as "John the Baptist" depict monumental, weighty figures. The work is composed predominantly of brilliant red clays, with blue and gold accents of paint. As Susan Mitchell Crawley has observed: “Vigorous application of the mediums produces a rough, disheveled John the Baptist much like those of early Renaissance altarpieces that suggest the unconventional nature of the prophet in the desert. Running counter to expectation and the norms of chiaroscuro, the nose is darker than the surrounding face and not shaded; the nostrils are white not dark. One eyelid is gold; the other eye is rimmed in red, giving a sense of shadow but also of wildness. While one eye looks straight at the viewer, the other gazes off to the side, yet rather than making the saint look wall-eyed, the double glance seems to add layers to the saint’s expression.”

Susan Mitchell Crawley, "Jimmy Lee Sudduth" (Montgomery: The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in association with River City Publishing, 2005), p. 24.

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