Bartolomé-Esteban Murillo (1617 - 1682)
- The Holy Family with the Infant Baptist
- c. 1670
- Oil on canvas
- Image size: 168.6 x 130 cm
Object size: 206 x 170 x 14 cm
- Inscription: 'ECCE AGN[US DEI]' (John 1, 29)
- Great Gallery
- The subject of this painting of the Holy Family derives from the Franciscan
Meditations on the Life of Christ. At the centre, the infant Christ shows his
mother a scroll referring to himself as ‘The Lamb of God’ (‘Ecce Agn[us Dei]’).
Lambs were symbols of innocence and humility, attributes traditionally
associated with Christ himself and St John the Baptist. They were also
sacrificial animals, thus the presence of the lamb in this painting foretells the
Passion of Christ and the martyrdom of his cousin St John the Baptist. The infant John’s cruciform staff reinforces the pathos of the message.
Dateable to c.1670, the painting hung in the Sacristy of the Capilla de la Antigua in the Cathedral of Seville. Despite efforts to conceal the painting, it was removed by Marshal General Soult, commander-in- chief of the French troops in Spain, who had taken the city of Seville in 1810.
It was later owned by W. Williams Hope at whose sale in 1849 it was bought by the 4th Marquess of Hertford.