Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

Borrassà was the leader of one of the most successful painting workshops in Catalonia. The two figures in this fragment were probably part of the banco (base) of a larger altarpiece dedicated to Saint Peter. The upper panels of the altarpiece would have depicted stories from Peter’s life and death, and his martyrdom was visually supported by the lower saints from our fragment, who had also died for their devotion. On the left, we see Saint John: his camel pelt marks him out as a prophet who lived in the wilderness, removed from society. He holds a scroll reading “Ecce agnus Dei qui tollit,” or “Look, this is the lamb of God who takes away [the sins of the world].” In the original banco, Saint John would have been pointing toward another panel depicting the crucified Christ (the “lamb of God”). Saint Barbara, dressed in splendid robes, holds a palm frond, a sign of her martyrdom, and also a tower with three windows, symbolizing the Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, a concept central to the Christian faith.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Lluís Borrassà, Spanish (1388 - 1424)
Saint John the Baptist and Saint Barbara
Work Type
c. 1411-1413
Creation Place: Europe, Spain, Catalonia
Spanish, Catalonian
Persistent Link
Level 2, Room 2440, Medieval Art, Medieval Art
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Tempera on panel
87.4 x 89.8 x 8.2 cm (34 7/16 x 35 3/8 x 3 1/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: On scroll held by Saint John: Ecce Agno Dei qui tollit
Private Collection, Barcelona, sold; to Fogg Art Museum, 1933.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Alpheus Hyatt Purchasing Fund
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

"A Panel by Borassá", Harvard Alumni Bulletin (November 17, 1933), pp. 219-221, pp. 219-221, repr. p. 219

Janet Congdon, "Some Important Museum Acquisitions", Parnassus (February 1934), vol. VI, no. II, pp. 18-19, p. 18; repr. p. 19

Frederick Randolph Grace, "St. John the Baptist and St. Barbara by Luis Borrassa", Bulletin of the Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, March 1934), Vol. III, No. 2, pp. 11-14, pp. 11-14, repr. p. 12 as fig. 1

[no title], The Art News (May 26, 1934), p. 16

Juan Antonio Gaya-Nuño, La Pintura Española Fuera de España, Espasa-Calpe (Madrid, Spain, 1958), p. 118, cat. no. 411

Josep Gudiol, Pintura Gótica Catalana, Ediciones Poligrafa, S.A. (Barcelona, 1986), pp. 83, 337, repr. p. 87 as no. 382

Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), pp. 99, 367, repr. b/w cat. no. 804

L'Art Gòtic a Catalunya, Enciclopèdia Catalana (Barcelona, 2005), Vol. II, pp. 68-69, repr. p. 69

Antonio José Pitarch, Maestros de Alta Época, Galeria Bernat (Barcelona, 2008), p. 24

Anna Lin-Schweitzer, "Preserving the Passage of Time", Index Magazine, Harvard Art Museums ([e-journal], October 27, 2017),

Exhibition History

32Q: 2440 Medieval, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 01/12/2017 - 01/01/2050

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