Skip to main content
The Circumcision
Luca Signorelli
/

Following Jewish tradition, Christ was circumcised when he was eight days old (Luke 2: 21). Seated on his mother’s lap, Christ reaches out to the mohel, the man who will perform the surgery, who holds a fine blade. The vibrantly coloured marble floor tiles are designed to attract the viewer’s attention, and the white borders lead their sight towards the central focus of the image, the infant Christ.

The subject was chosen by the patrons, the Confraternity of the Holy Name of Jesus, who were connected with the church of San Francesco, Volterra. The scene was an appropriate focus for their devotion, as it was when the infant Christ was named Jesus.

Christ as we see him now is the invention of a different artist, Sodoma, who was working in Volterra in the late 1530s; we don't know why he painted over Signorelli’s version.

Key facts
Artist Luca Signorelli
Artist dates about 1440/50 - 1523
Full title The Circumcision
Date made about 1490-1
Medium and support Oil on canvas, mounted on board, transferred from wood
Dimensions 258.5 x 180 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1882
Inventory number NG1128
Location in Gallery Room 61
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.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low-resolution image

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

Creative Commons Logo