Times of religious upheaval and need for urbanization following the Renaissance gave rise to the production of lavish artworks during the Baroque era in Italy. Characterized by intense emotion and dynamism, Baroque art reflected the power of Roman antiquity but typified the renewed piety of Roman Catholics. The opulent urbanization projects patronized by the church culminated in the verisimilitude of Baroque paintings. One painting that reflects such change is Saint John the Baptist Preaching by Mattia Preti, also known as Il Calabrese. Preti was born in 1613 in Taverna, Calabria to a modest family with ecclesiastical connections. Preti was well traveled around Italy and was exposed to artworks from the likes of Correggio, Mantegna, and…show more content…
His pointing hand reminds the audience of the reward waiting in heaven and the salvation the church promises with continued commitment to the Catholic doctrine.
Aside from linear perspective, Calabrese incorporates other geometrical forms throughout the composition. One is the circle at the foreground of the painting, which Calabrese offers the audience to complete. More outstanding is the triangle that occupies the majority of the space. John’s body, parallel to his staff, begs the viewer to trace the triangle from his eyes, across the woman and the lamb in the foreground, up the staff, and through to his hand. This triangle is significant in its symbolism of the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son. The message here is clear; through Jesus, the lamb, one will be saved. It is also interesting that Calabrese places John between the lamb and his hand. It coincides with the paintings’ function as an altar piece in that John serves as an intercessor to the Divine. Through him, one has access to Jesus, and therefore God. The geometrical lines and shapes add to the painting’s dynamism and contribute to the optimistic promise the painting conveys.
Stylistically, his painting is an example of the “smooth” manner, characterized by fine technique in the portrayal of illusionistic form. In this painting, Calabrese uses strong directional lighting from the top, left corner of the painting to highlight the scene. It is Caravagesque in the way