Gianbattista Mengardi (1738-96)
The Holy Family with St. John the Baptist
Second half of the 18th century
Church of St. Jeremiah ('San Geremia'), Venice
The central figures are posed as in in Madonna and Child images. Mary has a blue mantle over a red robe, and the child is naked but with a wisp of cloth covering his genitals, a pattern common since the mid-16th century.
The toddler standing at left is the St. John the Baptist, identified by his camel-skin cloak. In many medieval images the Christ Child holds a globe-shaped fruit or is handed one by his mother, but in this case it is John who offers it. The globe shape is a reference to the mappa mundi orb that Jesus or the Father holds in many portraits. It also refers to the sacrifice for which the child came into the world.
The man standing at right is St. Joseph, identified by the lily stalk. As is often the case after Molanus's condemnation of images treating Joseph as an old man, he is here represented as a young adult with a full head of dark hair. He is not often pictured reading a book.
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Read more about images of the Holy Family and of the Madonna and Child.
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Photographed at the church by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.