Carved from a solid piece of timber, the beautifully carved sculpture of the Baptist preserves much early polychromy and gilding. It shows the saint with his characteristic camel skin, emblematic of his status as a hermit saint, and holding the lamb, signifying Agnus Dei, to which he gestures. The tilted head with downcast gaze find a strong parallel in Balduque's Corpus from his Cristo de la Vera Cruz of Alcalá del Río in Seville. The elongated facial type with drooped eyelids and trailing beard are very close.
Significantly Balduque was response for a now lost altarpiece for the parish church of Chiclana de la Frontera in Cádiz, which is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. Remnants survive of the altarpiece in the church itself, but no figure of St John is located today from this provenance. Given the close stylistic association between the present statue and Balduque's work, Dr Jesús Porres Benavides has suggested that the present St John may come from the dismantled altarpiece of Chiclana de la Frontera in Cádiz. Indeed, if Porres Benavides is correct, the sculpture may have been a central component of this altarpiece, given that the church was dedicated to the Baptist. For the complete argument please refer to the expertise which is available upon request.
The present sculpture is accompanied by an expertise attributing it to Roque de Balduque by Dr Jesús Porres Benavides which is available from the department upon request.
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