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Garofalo, The Holy Family with Saints

Key facts
Full title The Holy Family with Saints Elizabeth, Zacharias, John the Baptist (and Francis?)
Artist Garofalo
Artist dates about 1481 - 1559
Date made about 1520-35
Medium and support Oil on canvas, transferred from wood
Dimensions 60.3 × 47.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1839
Inventory number NG170
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Holy Family with Saints

The infant Christ is shown greeting his cousin, John the Baptist, who comes bearing a goldfinch, an emblem of Christ’s suffering and death. Saint Joseph is seen behind the Virgin Mary to the right; Zacharias is behind his wife Saint Elizabeth to the left, where another saint, perhaps Francis, also appears.

Both Christ and the Baptist stand on the sides of an elaborate golden cradle, the foot of which is decorated with two bearded cherubim with intertwined tails. There is a similar cradle in The Holy Family dated 1533 by Garofalo, now in the Royal Collection (Hampton Court). It is likely that the National Gallery’s painting is a little earlier and dates from the 1520s. The prominence of the cradle in this painting suggests that Garofalo knew Raphael’s works, several of which feature a similar composition.

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