The Baptism of Jesus (Baptême de Jésus)
According to Matthew, Jesus travels from Galilee to Judaea to be baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Although John humbly protests and suggests that it is he who should be baptized by Jesus instead, Jesus insists. Here, a dove descends from the heavens as Jesus emerges from the water, while a voice from above calls him “my beloved Son.” Perhaps in reference to earlier passages in the Gospels relating the curiosity and suspicion John’s desert ministry inspired in some quarters, several witnesses surreptitiously watch the proceedings through a screen of rushes on the riverbank.
Tissot’s text states that John the Baptist and Jesus, cousins often presented as childhood companions in artistic tradition, met again as adults at a place marked with twelve stones, indicating the spot where the Jewish people had crossed the Jordan and reentered Israel after their wanderings in the desert—a confluence of events linking the narratives of the Old and New Testaments. In the watercolor, John and his acolytes appear to stand on these stones as they perform the rite.
- Portfolio/Series: The Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ (La Vie de Notre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ)
- Artist: James Tissot, French, 1836-1902
- Medium: Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper
- Place Made: France
- Dates: 1886-1894
- Dimensions: Image: 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 in. (21.6 x 14 cm) Sheet: 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 in. (21.6 x 14 cm) Frame: 20 x 15 x 1 1/2 in. (50.8 x 38.1 x 3.8 cm) (show scale)
- Signature: Signed bottom right: "J.J. Tissot"
- Collections:European Art
- Museum Location: This item is not on view
- Accession Number: 00.159.49
- Credit Line: Purchased by public subscription
- Rights Statement: No known copyright restrictions
- Caption: James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Baptism of Jesus (Baptême de Jésus), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 in. (21.6 x 14 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.49
- Record Completeness: Best (90%)