Cesare da Sesto

Holy Family with St Catherine

Holy Family with St Catherine
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Cesare da Sesto
Painting, Oil on canvas, 89x71 cm
Origin: Italy, Between 1515 and 1520

Cesare da Sesto was a pupil of Leonardo da Vinci, to whom this painting was attributed at the time when it entered the Hermitage in 1899. The famous French writer and art critic Stendhal considered it to be the best work Leonardo ever painted and it is indeed a masterly work: the soft, translucent, mysterious shadows give the figures convincing plasticity and weight, the colouring is noble and restrained. The master skilfully conveyed the complex foreshortening of the figure of Joseph as he leans forward, while the movements and facial expression of the laughing Child are wonderfully natural.

The artist used one model for both Mary and Catherine, endowing them with mysterious significance characteristic of female images by Leonardo.

Personage: Jesus, the Virgin Mary, St Joseph
Style: Renaissance
Source of entry: acquired in 1769
School: Milan
Theme: The Bible and Christianity

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