Jacopo Tintoretto, The Baptism of Christ

Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice, Italy

Unlike most images of this type, this painting includes the throng of penitents whose baptism into "newness of life" is the fruit of Christ's sacrifice on the cross (Romans 6:4). One of them waits behind Christ, removing his clothes in response to Paul's injunction to "put off the old man, who is corrupted according to the desire of error" (Ephesians 4:22), "stripping yourselves of the old man with his deeds" (Colossians 3:9).

In the right foreground the artist also includes the three virtues to which baptism gains access: Hope on the far right, viewing the scene through a veil because "hope that is seen, is not hope" (Romans 8:24); Charity nursing a child, the usual iconography; and next to her Faith, with a clear view of what is happening.1

This painting is part of a group focused on types of Christian Baptism. Facing it on the opposite wall is the Miracle at the Bethesda Pool. On the ceiling between those two are Moses' Water Miracle. Because the new life of Baptism involves a death to sin, the Moses painting includes the drowning of Pharaoh's army, and next to that painting we see Jonah's delivery after his days in the whale.

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Photographed at the site by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

1 Brunet, 73.