About this artwork
With this work, Peter Paul Rubens presented a distinctly human take on the figures of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The Holy Family lack the halos that often identify them, and the adult characters wear contemporary Flemish attire. Mary’s exposed breast brings to mind Jesus’s need for physical nourishment as the human son of God. Her central placement underscores the growing veneration of this saint in the Catholic community of the Spanish Netherlands, while her pyramidal arrangement shows Rubens’s attention to the principles of Renaissance art. Several versions of this painting exist, suggesting that it was an admired composition for private devotion.
- Peter Paul Rubens
- The Holy Family with Saints Elizabeth and John the Baptist
- Flanders (Artist's nationality)
- Oil on panel
- 114.5 × 91.5 cm (45 1/8 × 36 in.)
- Major Acquisitions Fund