May 18, 2009
May 18, 2009
May 18, 2009

Holy Family with a Shepherd

Holy Family with a Shepherd

early 1520s

Battista Dossi

(Italian, c. 1490–1548)

Oil on canvas

Unframed: 38.7 x 32 cm (15 1/4 x 12 5/8 in.)

Delia E. Holden and L. E. Holden Funds 1949.185



In this image of the Holy Family, Joseph and Mary lean in to admire the Christ Child while a shepherd looks on, leaning on his staff. Before executing this painting, Battista visited Rome, including an extensive study of Raphael's works. Afterward, Battista began a second style of painting, seen in the flexible pose of Christ, the small hands of the adult figures, the high foreheads, and each figure looking sideways or upward. The landscape is impressionistic and grainy as mysterious silvery-blue moonlight accents the thickly wooded landscape. Rich reds, browns, and greens color the picturesque landscapes, typical of Battista's second style. This small painting was originally attributed to Battista Dossi's brother, Dosso. Both brothers served as court painters to the Duke Alfonso I of Ferrara. However, the symmetry and vibrant colors of the painting, as well as the facial styles of the figures, characterize the work of Battista Dossi.

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