The Holy Family

Object Details


The Holy Family


Jan Gossaert (Netherlandish, about 1478 - 1532)




about 1507 - 1508


Oil on panel


46 x 33.7 cm (18 1/8 x 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.

- 1855

Ralph Bernal, 1783 - 1854 (London, England) [sold, Bernal sale, Christie & Manson, London, March 13, 1855, lot 960, for £32.11 through G.I. Morant to John William Ramsden.]

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 -

A. Martinet (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.


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

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; as Jan Gossaert)
  • 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) (Cat. 4)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), May 28 to August 11, 2013

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 (as Bernaert van Orley).

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

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 (as Bernaert van Orley).

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

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

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