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Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin and Christ Child

A work made of oil on panel.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of oil on panel.


c. 1535


Girolamo da Carpi (Girolamo Sellari)
Italian, c. 1501–1556

About this artwork

Girolamo da Carpi was one of the most gifted artists at the court of the Este family of Ferrara, an important artistic center during the Italian Renaissance. This intimate work was painted for the Estes and adorned the oratory chapel of their palace. In the painting, Saint Luke draws the Virgin and Child while Saint Joseph watches unobtrusively from a doorway. As in many Renaissance works, Christ appears agitated—seemingly possessing foreknowledge of his death. He may be reacting to the spearlike yarnwinder, an attribute of the Three Fates and, consequently, a traditional symbol of death.

After leaving the Estes, the painting came into the possession, successively, of two Roman cardinals, two Roman princes, the English Duke of Westminster, Baron Alfred de Rothschild, and the Earl of Carnavon, who famously paid for the excavation of the tomb of King Tutankhamen.


On View, Gallery 205


Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Girolamo da Carpi


Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin and Christ Child

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1530–1540


Oil on panel


47 × 34 cm (18 × 13 3/8 in.) (arched)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds provided by the Old Masters Society

Reference Number


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