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After Alessandro Algardi, Italian, 1598 - 1654
Title: The Baptism of Christ
Date: after 1646
Medium: Giltwood
30 cm
Credit Line: Bequeathed, Dr John Patrick Maiben Gilmartin, through the Friends of the National Collections of Ireland, 2020
Object Number: NGI.2020.1
DescriptionThe model for this giltwood sculpture was originally made by Italian artist Alessandro Algardi around 1645. Sculpted in terracotta, it was first created for a version in silver, which was presented to Pope Innocent X in 1646 to celebrate his election. The cast silver sculpture is now lost, though Algardi’s original terracotta model remains in the Vatican Museums collection. This terracotta was mentioned in the sculptor's will and remained at his death in the studio in the Vatican foundry. The work was linked to Monsignor Cristoforo Segni, the Pope Innocent’s butler and the executor of the artist’s will, and was still in the Segni household in the mid-eighteenth century.

This dramatic giltwood sculpture, modelled after Algardi’s terracotta, tell the story of the baptism of Christ by Saint John in the river Jordan, an event described in all four Gospels. It has been a subject of Christian art since the third century. The twisting, semi-draped figures of this group epitomise the Roman Baroque style.

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