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Holy Family

A silent conversation of gestures and gazes, this portrait of the holy family presents a moment of warmth between the Christ Child and his cousin, John the Baptist. Stepping over his mother’s lap, the Christ Child wrapped in a golden cloth turns towards the young Saint John, who leans outwards, indicating the baby to his mother Elizabeth. The Virgin Mary, dressed in red and blue textiles, and Joseph, behind her, look down at their son sorrowfully. A small cross in the lower left corner foreshadows Christ’s eventual crucifixion. This painting is based on a work painted by Giorgio Vasari’s (1511-1574) teacher Andrea del Sarto (1486-1530) for the Medici family in Florence. In a departure from the original (now in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence), Vasari added the figure of Saint Joseph behind the Virgin Mary. 

Vasari was a painter, architect, and historian who is primarily known today as the author of The Lives of the Most Celebrated Painters, Sculptors and Architects (1550). This book chronicled the lives, times, artworks, and techniques of the great artists of the Renaissance and today is used as a foundational text in the study of art history.  

Currently on display

Giorgio Vasari, after Andrea del Sarto
Mid-16th Century
Gallery 2
144.8 x 107.7 cm
Oil on panel
Bourgeois Bequest, 1811
Accession number