William L. Pressly, 'James Barry: Artist as Hero', London: The Tate Gallery, 1983, p 115, no 59
'St John the Baptist, wearing a cloak of camel's hair tied with a leather belt, baptizes Christ, who stands in the centre of the composition. In spirit Christ's submissive pose recalls that of Adam in 'The Discovery of Adam and Eve' (cgjc0788), whereas that of St John more closely resembles the imposing figure of Satan in 'Satan and his Legions' (cgjc0792). The surrounding spectators do not react to the baptism itself but to the accompanying events in which the Spirit of God descends in the form of a dove from the opened heavens. Presumably they are reacting as well to God's voice proclaiming, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased' (St Matthew 3:17). Unlike the Miltonic compositions, Barry introduces an expansive vista into the background (in this instance showing a section of the River Jordan), but even here the space is constricted with the densely packed boat of fishermen pressing up against the two protagonists.' (Pressly, 115)
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