Head of Saint John the Baptist

The lowered eyelids of the beheaded St. John the Baptist in Jan Zrzavý’s “Leonardesque” drawing not only obscure the sightless eyes of the prophet, who symbolizes artistic rebellion in modernist iconography; apart from mortality, they also conjure associations of dreaming and contemplation. The face of the silenced figure becomes pallid and assumes androgynous features. The face evokes a sense akin to the dawn of existence and, being defenceless, it allows insight into the subject’s inner world. By resembling a mask, however, it also veils the deepest layers of that world and encourages the hesitant observer to continuously question the essence of what they perceive. Even Zrzavý’s drawing style wears a “mask”, provoking the inquiry of whether this is a copy of a Renaissance artwork or a creative reinterpretation.

Subject: Others
Author: Zrzavý, Jan
Title: Head of Saint John the Baptist
Date: 1910
Technique: charcoal drawing on paper
Dimensions: 22.5 × 26.8 cm
Origin: Karásek Gallery Collection
Licence: Free license

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