Illustrations of the New Testament with text in French and Latin. Engravings by Gérard Jollain (d. 1683)
Little is known of Jollian who published this work during the reign of Louis XIV. During his seventy-two year reign of France, Louis ruled as an absolute monarch, naming himself as the head of the Catholic Church in France. Under his rule, the rights of Protestants in France were greatly compromised. It is said that he even ordered Protestant children to be baptized by Catholic priests!
The tone of this depiction is rather serene. The artist here has placed a group of witnesses in the foreground, most prominent is a figure of a woman who is smiling and holding a child. This figure and the two male figures are dressed, so it is not clear if they are meant to portray the people whom John baptized before Jesus. Regardless, their presence seems to appeal to the viewers’ emotions; we feel that they are pleased by the event and it gives the scene a great amount of warmth. Here, Jesus is immersed up to his knees in the Jordan. His arms cross his body, and his wears a long cloth around his waist. There is a rayed halo behind his head. In this scene, John is not pouring water; he is holding his hand over the head of Jesus. He wears a heavy, flowing garment. A circular halo surrounds his head. The figure of the dove in the sky is strangely flattened here, as if showing tan overhead view of him flying; he appears almost cross-like in form.
Artwork in the public domain