If the conception of "St. John the Baptist" by Leonardo da Vinci must be placed in Florence around 1508, the time of its execution is impossible to specify. One can imagine that Leonardo da Vinci worked on it slowly, over several years, perfecting the details as well as the pictorial work, and that in 1517 the painting was now very complete when it was presented to the Cardinal of Aragon, who judged it, along with the other two paintings, to be "tucti perfectissimi".
The light makes the Baptist's body emerge from a deep night and gives his movement the appearance of a sinuous flame. It delicately sculpts his smile, a promise of salvation. This painting has a spiritual dimension, making the Baptist the messenger of the arrival of the Messiah.
John the Baptist was the first to bear the name Yohanan (Hebrew: יוחנן), which means "God is gracious".
Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.