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Title Virgin and Child with the Infant St John
Collection Victoria and Albert Museum
Artist School of Rubens, Peter Paul (Flemish painter and draftsman, 1577-1640)
Date Earliest about 1650
Date Latest about 1750

This painting shows the influence of Rubens's art. It portrays the Virgin and Child with the Infant St John the Baptist in a typical Rubens' manner, most noticeable in the features of the the Virgin and Child. The composition, which focuses on the intimacy between Mother and Child, is reminiscent of the Italian models which Rubens studied in Italy. This painting was probably executed for private devotion around the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Peter Paul Rubens was born in Siegen, Westphalia, after his parents left Antwerp, where he returned after his father's death. He became a member of the Antwerp Guild of St Luke in 1598. From 1600 to 1608, Rubens visited Italy and Spain. He was deeply influenced by the Renaissance and was especially well versed in its humanistic culture, which had a decisive impact on his artistic development. He specialised in history painting, and returned to Antwerp following his mother's death in 1608. There, he produced mostly altarpieces, history paintings and portraits. In 1623, he began a diplomatic career, which brought him commissions from the chief courts of Europe. Rubens' pupils included Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641).

Current Accession Number 584-1870
Subject figure; religion (Virgin Mary; St John the Baptist; Christ Child)
Measurements 41.2 x 30.5 cm (estimate)
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by John M. Parsons 1870.
Publications Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, London, 1973, p. 197, cat. no. 240.

This painting was previously catalogued as 'Manner of Murillo', but it shows characteristic features of Rubens's art, and was probably painted by a follower of his some time after his death.

It shows the Madonna and Child with the Infant St John the Baptist, in the lower left corner, half hidden in the shadows, and holding his traditional attribute, a reed cross. The facial features of the Virgin, with a long, aquiline noise, arched eyebrows and a small mouth, are particularly close to some of Rubens' models, such as those in The Holy Family, National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen (Inv. DEP12); and in The Holy Family with St Elizabeth, St John and a Dove, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Inv. 53.27). The pale complexion of the Virgin (still distinguishable under the dirty varnish), and her fleshy, elongated hands, are typical of Rubens' modelling and palette.

The upright stance of the Child, one foot in his mother's hand, recalls the composition of the Copenhagen panel. His upraised arm adds balance to the composition and alludes to his forthcoming sacrifice.

This painting, which had been much restored and much repainted, probably dates from the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Rights Owner © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Author Ana Debenedetti



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