Artist Unknown

Carlo Saraceni

Italy, b.1579, d.1620 (After)

The Holy Family

  • Presented by the Estate of Dr J P Whetter, 1940
  • Oil on wood panel
  • 1010 x 785 x 75mm
  • 69/259

This particular representation of the Virgin, Child and St Anne has its origin in the 15th century. St Anne is depicted holding a dove, a Christian symbol for the Holy Ghost. She is always dressed in green, which symbolises rebirth and immortality, and red, symbolic of love. It is thought that this painting was done by an unknown Flemish master and is a copy of a work by the Venetian painter Carlo Saraceni (1579-1620). Copying was a common practice with Northern European artists during the 17th and 18th centuries. They would often travel to Italy to study and make copies from works in collections. Saraceni trained in Venice before settling in Rome in 1598. He remained active in Rome throughout much of his career. Saraceni was influenced by the paintings of Caravaggio (1573-1610) and Adam Elsheimer (1578-1610). He painted small landscapes peopled with figures as well as religious works, including many large-scale altarpieces in Rome.

The original of this painting is in the Mueso d'Arte Antiche in the Palazzo Barberini, Rome

earlier labels about this work
  • This painting is a copy, it is thought, by an unknown Flemish master after the Venetian painter Carlo Saraceni.

    Saraceni was much influenced by the artists Michelangelo, Caravaggio and Adam Elsheimer, artists who also had many followers among Dutch and Flemish painters for their dramatic chiaroscuro effects. During the seventeenth and eighteenth century many northern European artists visited and studied in Italy often making copies from works in collections.

    The Holy Family has been a favoured subject in religious art for a century but this particular representation of the Virgin, Child, and St Anne has its origin in the fifteenth century.

    St Anne holds a dove, a Christian symbol for the Holy Ghost, She is always clad in green, symbolic of rebirth and immortality and red symbolic of love.

    The bond between the family group is achieved by gesture and facial expression.

    (Label date unknown)