John the Baptist by Anton Raphael Mengs by Mary Elizabeth Podles

A Thousand Words

John the Baptist by Anton Raphael Mengs

"Behold, I send my prophet before your face." This is not a conventional, benevolent, smiling St. John the Baptist, pointing benignly upward in gentle reminder. This is a full-blown wild man, up close to the picture plane and in your face, as befits a prophet. His message is clear, urgent, and compelling: Repent! This John sits on a rock, and behind him a cliff face signifying the wilderness pushes him further forward into our faces.

At the lower right, a reed, shaken by the wind, m . . .