Leonardo's painting of St John the Baptist is one of his final works. It portrays St John as a rather effeminate figure, the ambiguity of the face, which could be male or female, is in stark contrast to the more muscular depiction of the Saint that we have become accustomed to.
St John emerges from a dark background his skin and hair ringlets are lit in what is a fine example of Leonard's sfumato.
St John holds a cross in his left hand and, in a gesture similar to the cartoon of The Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John, his right-hand points towards heaven. This may signify that salvation is gained through prayer and the sacrament of baptism.