Saint John the Baptist Leaving for the Desert

Image credit: The Henry Barber Trust, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham

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Saint John, dressed in camel skin, takes leave of his parents outside the walls of Jerusalem. He journeys to begin his life as a preacher in the desert, which will culminate in his baptising Christ. The panel formed part of the 'predella', or lower part, of an altarpiece of the Annunciation. The scene is framed by bisected balusters which would have linked it to four other panels. The altarpiece was commissioned by a wealthy Florentine. This may explain the inclusion of Saint John, who was the city’s patron saint, and the use of Florence as the model for Jerusalem.

Saint John the Baptist Leaving for the Desert




tempera on wood


H 23.8 x W 37.8 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

purchased, 1950

Work type



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Normally on display at

The Barber Institute of Fine Arts

University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, West Midlands B15 2TS England

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