Skip to main content

Fra Bartolommeo, The Virgin adoring the Child with Saint Joseph

Key facts
Full title The Virgin adoring the Child with Saint Joseph
Artist Fra Bartolommeo
Artist dates 1472? - 1517
Date made before 1511
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 137.8 × 104.8 cm
Acquisition credit Mond Bequest, 1924
Inventory number NG3914
Location Room 10
Collection Main Collection
The Virgin adoring the Child with Saint Joseph
Fra Bartolommeo

In this painting intended for private devotion, Fra Bartolommeo emphasises the humble circumstances of Christ’s birth. The Virgin kneels on the ground before the newborn Christ, while barefoot Saint Joseph watches over the baby. The makeshift stable made from the ruins of a classical building stands behind them, outside the city walls of Bethlehem. In the background, an artist and his assistants paint a fresco above the city gate while young Saint John the Baptist walks away from Bethlehem, having escaped Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents.

The composition is related to Fra Bartolommeo’s Holy Family (Borghese Gallery, Rome) of about 1495. The unusual pose of the Virgin is derived from Leonardo’s work, and a variation of Fra Bartolommeo’s Holy Family (Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan), of about 1504. However, the rich palette and landscape full of incidental detail reveal the influence of Venetian art.

Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download a low-resolution copy of this image for personal use.

License this image

License and download a high-resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low-resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Download low-resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo