The Holy Family

Object Details

Title:

The Holy Family

Artist/Maker:

Jan Gossaert (Netherlandish, about 1478 - 1532)

Culture:

Netherlandish

Date:

about 1507 - 1508

Medium:

Oil on panel

Dimensions:

46 × 33.7 cm (18 1/8 × 13 1/4 in.)

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Elegance, sophistication, and worldliness define this portrayal of Mary, Joseph, and the Christ Child. Embedded in a fantastic cityscape with an elaborate fountain, the half-hidden figure of Joseph draws the viewer's attention, as do the lilies symbolizing the Virgin's purity in the right foreground. Contemporary taste in Antwerp and Brussels, where this painting was probably made, demanded that nearly every inch of a picture be filled with activity or ornament and that it be as ornate and decorative as possible. Even Mary's headdress provided an opportunity for an eye-catching, energetic shape fluttering against the flowering vines.

Jan Gossaert set the figures in an inventive complex of pseudo-antique architecture, indicating his general awareness of Italian styles, probably gained through prints from Italy, which often circulated in Northern Europe, rather than from actual experience.

Provenance
- 1855

Ralph Bernal, 1783 - 1854 (London, England) [sold, Bernal sale, Christie & Manson, London, March 13, 1855, lot 960, through G. I. Morant to John William Ramsden, for £32.11 (as Jan Mabuse).]
Source: "Pictures bought at the sale of the Bernal collection for Sir John Ramsden, Bt. by G. I. Morant." GRI Special Collections, no. 840190.

1855 - 1914

Sir John William Ramsden, fifth Bart., 1831 - 1914 (Bulstrode Park, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, England), by inheritance to John Frecheville Ramsden, 1914.

1914 - 1930

Sir John Frecheville Ramsden, sixth Bart., 1877 - 1958 (Bulstrode Park, Buckinghamshire, England) [sold, Ramsden sale, Christie, Mansion & Woods, London, July 11, 1930, lot 49, to A. Martinet for £735.]

1930 -

Achille Martinet, French, 1806 - 1877 (Paris, France)

1960 - 1961

Rosenberg & Stiebel, Inc. (New York, New York), sold to private collector, 1961.

1961 - 1971

Private Collection (USA), sold to Newhouse Galleries, 1971.

1971

Newhouse Galleries (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1971.

Exhibitions
National Exhibition of Works of Art (1868) (Cat. 537; as van Orley)
  • Leeds City Museum and Galleries (Leeds), 1868
The J. Paul Getty Collection (June 29 to September 3, 1972) (Cat. 33)
  • The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Minneapolis), June 29 to September 3, 1972
Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures: Jan Gossart's Renaissance (October 5, 2010 to May 30, 2011) (Cat. 4)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), October 5, 2010 to January 17, 2011
Gardens of the Renaissance (May 28 to August 11, 2013)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), May 28 to August 11, 2013
Bibliography

"Pictures Bought at the Sale of the Bernal Collection for Sir John Ramsden Bt. by G. I. Morant." (Mss., GRI Special Collections, no. 840190: March 1855), no. 960.

Christie & Manson, London. Catalogue of the Celebrated Collection of Works of Art from the Byzantine Period to that of Louis Seize, of that Distinguished Collector, Ralph Bernal, Esq., Deceased [...]. March 5-April 30, 1855, p. 82, lot 960.

llustrated Catalogue of the Distinguished Collection of Works of Art and Vertû [...] Collected by the Late Ralph Bernal, Esq.: Sold by Auction, by Messrs. Christie and Manson: With the Purchasers' Names and Prices (London: J. H. Burn, 1855), p. 17, no. 960.

National Exhibition of Works of Art, Leeds. Baines's Handbook to the Picture Galleries: A Reprint, with Additions, of Critical Notices Published in the Leeds Mercury, exh. cat. 2nd ed. (Leeds: Edward Baines and Sons, 1868), pp. 27-28, no. 537.

National Exhibition of Works of Art, at Leeds, 1868: Official Catalogue, exh. cat., under revision (Leeds: Edward Baines and Sons, 1868), p. 42, no. 537.

National Exhibition of Works of Art, at Leeds, 1868: Official Catalogue, exh. cat. (Leeds: Edward Baines and Sons, 1869), p. 39, no. 537.

Christie, Manson & Woods, London. Catalogue of Pictures by Old Masters. July 11, 1930, p. 16, lot 49, ill.

Winkler, Friedrich. "Aus der ersten Schaffenszeit des Jan Gossaert." Pantheon 20, no. 3 (May-June 1962), pp. 146-47, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B. Catalogue of the Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1972), p. 60, no. 73.

The J. Paul Getty Collection, exh. cat. (Minneapolis: The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1972), unpaginated, no. 33, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B., ed. The J. Paul Getty Museum: Greek and Roman Antiquities, Western European Paintings, French Decorative Arts of the Eighteenth Century (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1975), pp. 70, 105, ill.

Cristin, Lilli, ed. The J. Paul Getty Museum Guidebook (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1975), p. 54.

Fredericksen, Burton B., et al. Guidebook: The J. Paul Getty Museum. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1976), p. 57.

Fredericksen, Burton B., Jiří Frel, and Gillian Wilson. Guidebook: The J. Paul Getty Museum. 4th ed. Sandra Morgan, ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1978), p. 74.

Fredericksen, Burton B. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1980), unpaginated, no. 26, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B., et al. The J. Paul Getty Museum Guidebook. 5th ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1980), p. 61.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 93, ill.

Ainsworth, Maryan W., ed. Man, Myth, and Sensual Pleasures: Jan Gossart's Renaissance: The Complete Works, exh. cat. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with Yale University Press, 2010), pp. 122-25, no. 4, ill., entry by Maryan W. Ainsworth; p. 348n4, under no. 84, entry by Stijn Alsteens.