The Voice in the Desert (La voix dans le désert)
Tissot opens the section on Jesus’ ministry by introducing John the Baptist, who prophesied his coming, urged repentance, and practiced the cleansing rite of baptism. Calling out from the vast, rugged deserts of Judaea, the Baptist here throws his arms up in the air.
In his commentary, Tissot notes the resounding echo effect in the rocky valleys the Baptist inhabited, heightening his emphatic call to “make straight the way of the Lord.” The artist’s commentaries, which at times read like a travelogue, also provide his readers with details that summon their other senses as they ponder his images.
Living and preaching in the wilderness, the Baptist bears the marks of privation—most notably, his wild, knotted hair, a traditional attribute. Additionally, he wears a rough camel-hair cloak, testament to his penitence, and carries a staff for support in his wanderings.
Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
Image: 11 7/16 x 6 11/16 in. (29.1 x 17 cm)
Sheet: 11 7/16 x 6 11/16 in. (29.1 x 17 cm)
Frame: 20 x 15 x 1 1/2 in. (50.8 x 38.1 x 3.8 cm) (show scale)
Signed bottom right: "J.J. Tissot"
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James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Voice in the Desert (La voix dans le désert), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 11 7/16 x 6 11/16 in. (29.1 x 17 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.44 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.44_PS1.jpg)
overall, 00.159.44_PS1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2007
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