Caravaggio is an Italian Renaissance artist, one of the greatest baroque masters. Like most lovers of this style, he preferred an abundance of details to asceticism, and the brightness and richness of the colors were pale. Of all those, he loved mythical and religious motives the most.
His “John the Baptist” is a picture, which is also called “The Young Man with the Aries,” because the familiar image of the prophet in it is interpreted unusually. As a rule, John is portrayed at the dawn of his glory when he baptized people on the Jordan River. Or when he walked through the desert, tattered and swallowed by inner silence.
In the picture, Caravaggio is not an adult man, not a prophet, but a boy, whom this prophet once was. He has curly hair, a simple, open face, dark eyes. Naked, he sits on a stone, barely covered by a piece of camel skin and his own clothes, and hugs the ram’s neck, glancing slyly at the viewer. There is no anguish, no suffering. He is not the same person who left everything that he had to preach the coming of the one who will baptize with fire.
He does not have a belt, a usual hoodie, of all the attributes of a prophet - a camel skin, and a ram does not fit the prophet absolutely, because in most interpretations it means lust. John, as a rule, is portrayed with a lamb, that is, with a small lamb.
Perhaps this approach may offend those who only want to see holiness. But the very reminder that any sanctity originally comes from the mud, is born in the mud, mumbles in the human world, is valuable. So Christ went to preach only when he was thirty-three. But, forgetting this, he and John and the saints are immediately portrayed as adults, as if there was no long way from an ordinary child, as if there was never anything in them but a divine understanding.
Ballerinas Degas Pictures