Lucas van Leyden (aka Lucan Van Leyden)
The Baptism of Christ in the Jordan
Northern Europe, Dutch
5 5/8 in. x 7 3/16 in. (14.29 cm x 18.26 cm)
Medium and Support:
Engraving on paper
Gift of Jean K. Weil in memory of Adolph "Bucks" Weil, Jr.
Lucas’ composition probably addresses a hotly debated issue in Renaissance Germany. Various Protestant sects espoused different beliefs about whether baptism was a prerequisite for eternal life, as Catholics believed. In this print, the adults appear to be in discussion of the iconic baptism that occurs in their midst, and a small child in the foreground gestures towards the scene in the distance as if to ask about the implications for children and their parents. The view through the foreground pulls the viewer into the debate. It is an innovative pictorial approach to the subject of Christ’s baptism, and is characteristic of the artist’s penchant for creating new visual variations on old themes.