Giuseppe Piamontini, Saint John the Baptist
- Giuseppe Piamontini
- Baptistery of Saint John
- Specific location
- Interior, southwest side
- Original location
- Baptistery of Saint John, altar of Saint John the Baptist
- Sculpture, casting, gilding, chiseling
- Height: 260 cm ca.; Width: 110 cm ca.; Depth: 80 cm ca.;
- Marble, bronze, gold
Statue in white marble and parts in bronze depicting Saint John the Baptist, sculpted by Giuseppe Piamontini in 1688 on commission of the Grand Duke Cosimo III de' Medici, as a gift for the Baptistery.
The sculpture, now on the southwest wall, was originally situated above the 14th-century baptismal font, as a fundamental element of a sumptuous apparatus, including an altar dedicated to John the Baptist. At the top of the altar was a niche in the shape of a shell, and over this a canopy, all in marble. These elements were removed from the Baptistery in 1912, with only this sculpture by Piamontini remaining.
Saint John Baptist is the protector of Florence and titular of the temple where the sacrament of Baptism is administered, of which he is also the titular.
It was this Saint John who baptised the crowds in the River Jordan with a Baptism of penance, in preparation for the coming of the Messiah, and who recognised and baptised Christ himself. The evangelical episode captured by the statue is explicitly cited in the inscribed scroll tied to the cross - Ecce Agnus Dei, “Behold the lamb of God": this is the moment when Saint John recognises and points out Jesus as the awaited Christ, to the throngs of people. Other iconographic elements show John in keeping with the Gospels, as a robust young man dressed in camel skins held by a leather belt, with an emaciated face from his long desert penance, suggested by the stony ground at the base of the statue. We also see John crossing himself with a reed, in reference to the Gospel passage when Jesus tells the people that this man is not “a reed swayed by the wind” (Mathew 11:7).