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The Dramatic Image: Baroque Prints of the 17th Century

Carlo Maratti
Italian, 1625–1713

Virgin and Child with St. John

Etching, 1647
Gift of Mrs. W. H. Snyder, 1917.33

Seated in an interior, on the lap of his mother, the Christ Child leans forward to embrace his cousin, St. John the Baptist. St. John carries a staff whose apex appears as a crucifix from which hangs a banner with the Latin word ecce (“behold”) emblazoned on it. John the Baptist declared Ecce Agnus Dei (“Behold the Lamb of God”) when he saw Jesus the day after baptizing him. The crucifix, superimposed on the landscape visible through the open window, prophesies the eventual fate of Jesus.

Carlo Maratti was reputed to be a very serious young artist who arrived in Rome at the age of twelve. He became one of the Baroque period’s leading painters, though his style was generally restrained. He was especially noted for his ability to compose scenes in a simple, classical manner with just a few figures.