Inventario de' quadri di Pittura ritrovati nella Casa del q. Eccellente Sig. Giacomo da Ponte . . . April 27, 1592, no. 64 [published in Giambatista Verci, "Notizie intorno alla vita e alle opere de' pittori scultori e intagliatori della città di Bassano," Venice, 1775, p. 94], as an unfinished altarpiece depicting the Baptism of Christ ["Il battesimo di N.S. da S. Gio. Battista, cioè una Tavola d'altare sbozzata"].
Carlo Ridolfi. Le maraviglie dell'arte. Venice, 1648, part 1, p. 389, records it in the collection of Signor Carlo, descendant of the artist, in the artist's house in Bassano; refers to it as an altarpiece, one of Jacopo's last works, and unfinished.
E. Calzini and G. Mazzatinti. Guida di Forlì. Forlì, 1893, p. 29, list "il battesimo di Gesù del 'Bassano'" among paintings in the palazzo Guarini-Torelli, possibly this work.
Detlev von Hadeln in Le maraviglie dell'arte. 1, Berlin, 1914, p. 401 n. 7, tentatively identifies the picture mentioned by Ridolfi [see Ref. 1648] with the one listed in the artist's posthumous inventory [see Ref. 1592].
Giuseppe Fiocco. "Ausstellung venezianischer Kunst in München." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst 65 (1931–32), p. 159, sees the influence of Titian.
L[ili]. Fröhlich-Bum. "Unbekannte Gemälde des Jacopo Bassano." Belvedere 10, no. 4 (1931), pp. 121–22, pl. 71, as with G. [sic?] Schnackenberg, Munich; places it in Bassano's final period, dating it between 1572 and 1582 and finding it close to the artist's "Entombment" of 1574 in Santa Maria in Vanzo, Padua; believes that the nocturnal setting misled Ridolfi and Verci [who was in fact merely reproducing the inventory of 1592] into thinking that the work was unfinished.
A[ugust]. L. Mayer. Ausstellung altvenezianischer Malerei. Exh. cat., Julius Böhler. Munich, 1931, unpaginated foreword, p. 1, no. 3, calls it unfinished and refers to it as one of the most beautiful achievements of Bassano's late period.
Otto Benesch. "Meisterzeichnungen aus dem oberitalienischen Kunstkreis—II." Die graphischen Künste, n.s., 1 (1936), p. 60.
Edoardo Arslan. I Bassano. Milan, 1960, vol. 1, p. 357, includes it on his list of workshop and wrongly attributed works; rejects the attribution to Bassano, finding the handling too heavy; does not know its current whereabouts.
Simona Savini-Branca. Il collezionismo veneziano nel '600. Padua, 1964, p. 261.
Theodore Rousseau in "Ninety-fifth Annual Report of the Trustees, for the Fiscal Year 1964–1965." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 24 (October 1965), p. 58, lists it as an anonymous loan to the Museum.
Alessandro Ballarin. "La vecchiaia di Jacopo Bassano: le fonti e la critica." Atti dell'Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti 125 (1966–67), pp. 185–86, accepts it as by Jacopo and as the work mentioned by Ridolfi.
W. R. Rearick. "Jacopo Bassano's Last Painting: The Baptism of Christ." Arte veneta 21 (1967), pp. 104, 106–7, colorpl. 118, accepts it as the work listed in the inventory of 1592 and mentioned by Ridolfi in 1648, and calls it unfinished.
Rodolfo Pallucchini. Bassano. Bologna, 1982, pp. 54–55.
W. R. Rearick in Dizionario biografico degli italiani. 32, Rome, 1986, p. 187, as in a private collection, New York.
Livia Alberton Vinco da Sesso. "La raccolta di 'Quadri di eccellente pittura' della famiglia Stecchini e il fondo di dipinti bassaneschi degli ultimi discendenti dei Dal Ponte: episodi di collezionismo bassanese tra la fine del '600 e l'inizio del '700." Bollettino del Museo Civico di Bassano, n.s., nos. 13–15 (1992–94), pp. 206–10, 212, 220–22, fig. 29, identifies this work with "una palla di San Giovanni Battista che battezza nostro Signore" included in receipts recording the sale of seven paintings by Amadio Grossa, husband of Marietta Scajaro, Carlo Scajaro's sister, to Giacomo and Pietro Stecchini in 1673 for 300 ducats.
Luciana Larcher Crosato. "Jacopo Bassano." Kunstchronik 46 (March 1993), p. 128, pl. 5, remarks that it represents the highest and most extreme point of Bassano's art.
W. R. Rearick in Jacopo Bassano, c. 1510–1592. Exh. cat., Museo Civico, Bassano del Grappa. Fort Worth, 1993, pp. 170–71, 452–53, no. 79, ill. (color) [Italian ed., Bologna, 1992, pp. CLXXXVII–VIII, 206–7, no. 79, ill. (color)], believes that it was probably commissioned by a provincial church southwest of Bassano and that a copy by Jacopo's son Gerolamo (Museo di Castelvecchio, Verona) was substituted for it, with Jacopo's unfinished painting "kept by the family as a revered relic of the old master's final creative effort"; notes that no other depictions of this subject by Jacopo are known since 1541.
Alessandro Ballarin. "Jacopo Bassano: Scritti, 1964–1995." Jacopo Bassano. 1, Cittadella (Padua), 1995, part 1, pp. 64–65, fig. 178 (color detail); part 2, pp. 471–72, reprints the text of Ref. Ballarin 1966–67.
Bernard Aikema. Jacopo Bassano and His Public: Moralizing Pictures in an Age of Reform ca. 1535–1600. Princeton, 1996, pp. 150–51, 203–4 nn. 306–8, fig. 127, colorpl. XII.
Paolo Berdini. The Religious Art of Jacopo Bassano: Painting as Visual Exegesis. Cambridge, 1997, pp. 109–10, 115–16, 118–20, 171–72 n. 13, colorpl. V, dates it 1592, calling it Bassano's last picture; discusses the unprecedented nocturnal setting, arguing that it is meant to connect the event with Christ's Passion and noting that Saint Paul [Romans 6:5–6] refers to baptism as a "likeness of Christ's death".
Katherine A. McIver. "Review of Ref. Berdini 1997." Sixteenth Century Journal 29 (Summer 1998), p. 531.
William Roger Rearick in Jacopo dal Ponte al Museo di Bassano. 2001, p. 31.
Old Master & British Pictures. Christie's, London. July 6, 2007, p. 198, under no. 224.
Arturo Galansino in Titien, Tintoret, Véronèse . . . Rivalités à Venise. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 2009, pp. 376, 390–92, 437 nn. 155–59, no. 86, ill. (color).
Stefania Mason. "L'inventario di Gerolamo Bassano e l'eredità della bottega." Notiziario degli Amici dei Musei e dei Monumenti di Bassano del Grappa, special number, (December 2009), pp. 28–30, 40 n. 54.
Carlo Corsato. "Il 'Battesimo di Cristo' e l'eredità del 'brand' Bassano nelle botteghe dei figli di Jacopo." Verona illustrata no. 24 (2011), pp. 65–70, 74, 79, colorpl. III, figs. 44, 46, 50, 54, 58 (overall and details), defines the term "sbozzata" as it appears in Jacopo's inventory [see Ref. Bassano 1592] and does not think that this painting fulfills contemporary ideas of its meaning; believes that it would have been sent to the patron as an acceptable altarpiece; considers it to be a finished work and compares it to the version now in the Museo di Castelvecchio, Verona (for which he provides incorrect measurements), which he feels is more likely to be the "sbozzo" in the inventory; notes that the inventory does not mention that the action has a nocturnal setting and that the Verona version is less nocturnal in character; mentions another version (Simon Dickinson, London) that he believes is based on that in Verona and is a "ricordo" (record); speculates that the MMA painting was sent to a member of the Soranzo family and quotes Marco Boschini on a painting of the subject at the Ca' Soranza in Venice [p. 74 n. 3; the passage describes a God the Father as part of the composition].