St John the Baptist Preaching, 1643 by Rembrandt

St John the Baptist Preaching of about 1634 may have been intended as a study for an etching that was never executed. The painting itself was still in Rembrandt's studio in 1652, after which it was sold to Jan Six; and it was apparently on this occasion that the artist made a drawing of it that included the frame (Louvre, Paris).

The picture shows the Baptist preaching in the wilderness 'to the multitude that came forth to be baptized' (Luke 3:3-18), among them rich and poor, publicans and soldiers. A popular subject in Renaissance art, especially in northern Europe, Rembrandt's picture was inspired by a lost painting by Lastman, that depicts the Baptist standing on a dais at the right and preaching to a cross-section of humanity, including soldiers and scribes, mothers and children.