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Bernardino Luini, Christ among the Doctors

Key facts
Full title Christ among the Doctors
Artist Bernardino Luini
Artist dates about 1480 - 1532
Date made probably about 1515-30
Medium and support Oil on poplar
Dimensions 72.4 × 85.7 cm
Acquisition credit Holwell Carr Bequest, 1831
Inventory number NG18
Location Gallery B
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Christ among the Doctors
Bernardino Luini

At the age of 12, Jesus was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem by Mary and Joseph, who became accidentally separated from him. They found him three days later debating learnedly with the theologians there (Luke 2: 41). This is the moment at which Christ first identifies himself as the son of God: ‘Why are you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’

Jesus looks at us serenely as he counts the points of his argument off on his fingers. The picture is sometimes thought to be the adult Christ disputing with the Pharisees, as he looks older than 12 – the fine down of a new beard is growing on his chin.

The painting was previously believed to be by Leonardo, and may be based on an original design by him. There are numerous versions of this picture: the composition was enormously famous.

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