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image SG131

Saint John the Baptist before King Herod, stained glass panel, Leiden school , Netherlandish, c.1525

Height: 277mm
Width: 197mm

Museum number: SG131

Curatorial note

The scene depicts St John rebuking Herod for having married Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip. Herod sits on an elaborate throne, his right elbow resting on one armrest; he looks to the floor and the awkward posture of his legs and hands shows his great discomfiture at the message delivered by St John, who stands before him, barefoot and with his hands outspread in declamation. A dog reclines near the throne. A scene in the background left shows Herod conversing with Herodias in a Gothic hallway and, to the right, an open arcaded courtyard with a group of men and John entering the doorway in a tower.

The figure of the seated king is reminiscent of Leiden's Saul, but the Soane panel is clearly a replica of the Rijksmuseum roundel, St John the Baptist before Herod, in which version John has a halo. The panel is of the Leiden school and is attributed by Berserik to the Master of the St John panels. The subtle shading effects are achieved by stippling and badgering (stippling with a soft-haired brush).

Three panels in this series are at Glynde, St Mary's (East Sussex) showing the Annunciation to Zacharias of the Birth of John the Baptist, the Naming and Birth, and John the Baptist Preaching. Cole attributes these to the Master of the Acts of Mercy. A badly corroded scene of John the Baptist in Prison is at Holy Trinity, Bradford on Avon (Wiltshire) and The Beheading is at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. According to Karel Boon, quoted by Cole, the related scene of Salome with the Head of John the Baptist at St Peter's, Rendcomb (Gloucs.) is after a drawing in the National Gallery of Stockholm close in style to Cornelis Engebrechtsz , with versions at Muncaster Castle (Cumbria) and Holy Trinity, Berwick on Tweed (Northumberland). Berserik has pointed out other versions of the Naming in Chicago, in Baltimore (from Strawberry Hill) and the Hague, Lampe Collection, as well as the In Prison at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Beheading in the MRAH in Brussels and the Louvre in Paris, and Salome, also at the Louvre.

Literature

Dr C. J. Berserik, Personal correspondence. Sir John Soane's Museum Archive (1998-2002)
William Cole, A Catalogue of Netherlandish and North European Roundels in Britain. Oxford: OUP for The British Academy, 1993 158, 267, 763, 777, 790, 1233, 1830
Timothy B. Husband, Stained Glass Before 1700 in American Collections, Vol. 39, CVMA Checklist IV. Washington: National Gallery of Art, 1991 77, 89
Inventory number of the Collection Lampe, The Hague 1986
Inventory number of the Musees Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire 6317
Maitres des Anciens Pays-Bas née avant 1550. Paris: Musée du Louvre, 1968 OA1198, 1207
Bernard Rackham, A Guide to the Collections of Stained Glass, Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V&A Department of Ceramics, 1936 1859-5659
Rikksmuseum, Amsterdam 10175A, 1984-43
Catalogue of the Stained Glass in Sir John Soane's Museum, Special Issue of the Journal of Stained Glass 2004, pp 276-277


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