The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Holy Family

Object Details


The Holy Family


Joseph Paelinck (Belgian, 1781 - 1839)




about 1820


Oil on canvas

Object Number:



106 × 84.8 cm (41 3/4 × 33 3/8 in.)

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Object Description

In this easily comprehensible scene, the Virgin Mary and her mother Anne hold the Christ Child, probably observed by Mary's husband Joseph and her father Joachim. But the identity of the two older people remains debatable: some scholars speculate that they might be Biblical prophets, who lived long enough to see the Christ Child as God had promised them.

Joseph Paelinck stressed the humanity of the Holy Family in this moment of peace and intimacy. His simple, orderly composition gives equal attention to each of the individual figures. The device of the draped wall encloses the space and intensifies the viewer's focus on the interaction among the large, idealized figures. Elements such as the dramatic lighting and the sharply articulated folds of drapery show Paelinck's admiration of Jacques-Louis David's Neoclassical style.

- 1913

Grimaldi [sold, Grimaldi sale, Lepke, Berlin, October 14, 1913, lot 62.]
Source: "Gemälde des 15. bis 19. Jahrhunderts. Sammlung Grimaldi-Cadix"
Note: as L. David

- 1966

George Poole (New York, New York), sold to French and Company, 1966.

1966 - 1971

French and Company, Inc. (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1971.


Lepke, Berlin. Gemälde des 15. bis 19. Jahrhunderts. I. Auktionstag: Sammlung Grimaldi, Cadix [...]. October 14-15, 1913, p. 11, lot 62, pl. 17, ill.

"Gemälde des 15. bis 19. Jahrhunderts. Sammlung Grimaldi-Cadix u. a. [...]." Der Kunstmarkt 11, no. 6 (October 31, 1913), p. 52, no. 62.

Fredericksen, Burton B. Catalogue of the Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1972), p. 99, no. 137 (as French School, ca. 1800).

Bordeaux, Jean-Luc. "The J. Paul Getty Museum: La peinture française." Connaissance des arts, no. 278 (April 1975), p. 86.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 91, ill. (as attributed to François-Joseph Navez).