The Holy Family with Saints Elizabeth and John the Baptist

Large painting of Holy Family: Mary in red, holding baby Jesus
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Large painting of Holy Family: Mary in red, holding baby Jesus

Date:

c. 1615

Artist:

Peter Paul Rubens
Flemish, 1577–1640

About this artwork

This painting of the Holy Family is one of several completed in the decade after Peter Paul Rubens returned to his native Antwerp, following an eight-year stay in Italy. Fully immersed in Italian art, the prodigiously productive artist had acquired such facility in handling brush, color, figures, and drapery and in arranging large-scale compositions that he was unrivaled north of the Alps. Here he displayed these skills not only by bringing a sacred subject to life but also by bringing it down to earth. Vital and believable Flemish figures fill the composition, which is dominated by the Virgin clad in a brilliant red dress. The bold, diagonal movement of the playful infants is an effective counterbalance to the full, rounded figure of Mary. Joseph (Mary’s husband) and Elizabeth (her cousin, and the mother of John the Baptist) frame the pyramidal group as aged and more passive protectors. The atmosphere of joyful solemnity—of light, color, and life—is typical of Rubens and made him the quintessential Baroque artist, in demand as the designer of grand decorative schemes for churches and palaces across Europe.

On View

European Painting and Sculpture, Gallery 208

Artist

Peter Paul Rubens

Title

The Holy Family with Saints Elizabeth and John the Baptist

Origin

Flanders

Date

1610–1620

Medium

Oil on panel

Dimensions

114.5 × 91.5 cm (45 1/8 × 36 in.)

Credit Line

Major Acquisitions Fund

Reference Number

1967.229

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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