Pompeo Batoni

Holy Family with Sts Elizabeth and John the Baptist

Holy Family with Sts Elizabeth and John the Baptist
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Pompeo Batoni
Painting, Oil on canvas, 226x149.5 cm
Origin: Italy, 1777

Batoni kept this work in his studio in Rome for nearly five years, but in 1782 the visiting heir to the Russian throne, Paul Petrovich , and his wife Maria Fyodorovna, purchased the painting as a gift for Paul's mother, the Empress Catherine II. Batoni's characteristic painting style is clearly visible here: the smooth all-over application of paint, the resonant colour, the marvellous purity of the drawing. The figures of the Madonna and Child and the small John the Baptist seem somewhat distant and removed in their perfection, and are painted in classicizing style . The left-hand group, with Joseph reading the Bible, and Elizabeth trying to take the Child by the hand, is very different, much more down to earth and softer in colouring, almost like a scene from a genre painting. The table at which Joseph sits is covered with a carpet and decorated with a bouquet of roses and lilies. Both flowers are symbols of the Madonna, but the bouquet also gives a sense of intimacy to the room in which this family scene is set.

Personage: Jesus, the Virgin Mary, St Joseph
Source of entry: acquired from the artist, 1782
School: Roman
Theme: The Bible and Christianity

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