This painting explores the love's interdependence; the Virgin suckles the infant Christ, who sits on her left knee, as she converses with St Elizabeth, on the left.

St John, supported by his mother's right hand, caresses Christ's right foot, and lays his right hand on a lamb. Behind the group linked by a seamless chain of actions, an arcade reveals a landscape with trees. Joseph, originally included behind the pillar at the upper right, has been removed and painted over, probably for compositional reasons. During the last decade of its career, Rubens turned to the theme of the Holy Family on several occasions to portray the warmth and tenderness of human love.

Provenance

The Dukes of Devonshire (first recorded as hanging in Devonshire House in 1761).


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