19th Century Mexican San Juan Bautista Retablo de Augustin Barajas- "The Skimpy Painter"#43

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  • 19th Century Mexican San Juan Bautista Retablo de Augustin Barajas- "The Skimpy Painter" 
  • St. John the Baptist Retablo
  • Late 19th Century Original Retablo Oil Painting on Tin created in Mexico.
  • Retablo dimensions are approx. 10 inches horizontal x 14 inches vertical. 
  • Condition: in excellent, clean, original condition with some minor paint loss acquired over more than a century of use and devotional prayer.
  • John the Baptist, known as the Prophet Yahya in the Quran, and also known as John the Baptizer, was a Jewish itinerant preacher in the early First Century AD. John is revered as a major religious figure in Christianity, Islam, the Bahá'í Faith, and Mandaeism. He is called a prophet by all of these traditions, and is honoured as a Saint in many Christian traditions.
  • John used baptism as the central symbol or sacrament of his messianic movement. Most scholars agree that John baptized Jesus. Scholars generally believe Jesus was a follower or disciple of John. 
  • According to the New Testament, John anticipated a messianic figure greater than himself. Christians commonly refer to John as the precursor or forerunner of Jesus, since John announces Jesus' coming. John is also identified with the prophet Elijah.
  • The Gospel of Mark introduces John as a fulfilment of a prophecy from the Book of Isaiah about a messenger being sent ahead, and a voice crying out in the wilderness. John is described as "wearing clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey". John proclaims baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin, and says another will come after him who will not baptize with water, but with the Holy Spirit.
  • Jesus comes to John, and is baptized by him in the river Jordan. The account describes how; as he emerges from the water, the heavens open and the Holy Spirit descends on him 'like a dove'. A voice from heaven then says, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." 
  • Later in the gospel there is an account of John's death. It is introduced by an incident where the Tetrarch Herod Antipas, hearing stories about Jesus, imagines that this is John the Baptist raised from the dead. It then explains that John had rebuked Herod for marrying Herodias, the ex-wife of his brother Philip. Herodias demands his execution, but Herod, who 'liked to listen' to John, is reluctant to do so because he fears him, knowing he is a 'righteous and holy man'.
  • The account then describes how Herod's daughter, known by the name of Salome dances before Herod, who is pleased and offers her anything she asks in return. When the girl asks her mother what she should request, she is told to demand the head of John the Baptist. Reluctantly, Herod orders the beheading of John, and his head is delivered to her, at her request, on a plate. John's disciples take the body away and bury it in a tomb. Many scholars have seen the story of John arrested, executed, and buried in a tomb as a conscious foreshadowing of the fate of Jesus.
  • Note from Brian: I was stunned when I first saw this wonderful retablo, by the simple lines, the brave and bold colors and by the treatment of the figures as powerful and vulnerable.
  • This fine retablo was painted by a well know retablo artist, Augustin Barajas, also know as the "Skimpy Painter" for his flat, almost Byzantine or Giotto-esque style, and his thin paint surfaces, that I find have an honesty and purity of style and strong composition.