Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist

Object Details


Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist


Guido Reni (Italian, 1575 - 1642)




Italy (Place created)


about 1640 - 1642


Oil on canvas


172.7 × 142.2 cm (68 × 56 in.)

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In this depiction of a meeting between the young Christ and Saint John the Baptist, Guido Reni eliminated unnecessary detail and concentrated on the scene's emotional qualities. The eyes of the two children meet as Mary looks on. The doves that the Christ Child gives to his cousin are an allusion to both Jesus's future role as the King of Peace as well as his eventual sacrifice. Joseph enters through a doorway in the background.

Although using oil, Reni applied his color with the broad brushwork of fresco painting. He outlined important details with dark, jagged strokes. It was once thought that the sketchy appearance of Reni's late works meant that they were unfinished, but like many aging artists, Reni pared form and color to the bare essentials for purely expressive purposes.

Lost for centuries, this painting reappeared in the possession of a family in Michigan who sold it to the Getty Museum in 1984.

- about 1978/1979

Saint Joseph's Seminary (Grand Rapids, Michigan), possibly sold to Mr. and Mrs. Frances Alvarado, about 1978/1979.
Source: Burton Fredericksen.

about 1978/1979 - about 1979/1980

Frances Alvarado (Wyoming, Michigan)

about 1978/1979 - about 1979/1980

and Mrs. Frances Alvarado (Wyoming, Michigan), by gift to Isaura Vela, sister of Frances Alvarado, about 1979/1980.
Source: Burton Fredericksen.

about 1979/1980 - 1984

Isaura Vela (Muskegon, Michigan) [sold, Christie's, New York, January 18, 1984, lot 166, through Hefner Galleries (Grand Rapids, Michigan) to Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd.]
Source: Burton Fredericksen.


Thomas Agnew & Sons, Ltd. (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

Guido Reni und Europa: Ruhm und Nachruhm (December 1, 1988 to February 28, 1989)
  • Schirn Kunsthalle (Frankfurt), December 1, 1988 to February 28, 1989
Captured Emotions: Baroque Painting in Bologna 1575-1725 (December 16, 2008 to May 3, 2009) (pl. 43)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), December 16, 2008 to May 3, 2009

Christie's, New York. Important Paintings by Old Masters. January 18, 1984, pp. 140-44, lot 166, ill.

Christie's Review of the Season (1984) p. 21, ill.

Lyons, James R. "Connoisseaur's World." Connoisseur, vol. 214, no. 870. (August 1984) p. 12, ill.

Pepper, D. Stephen. Guido Reni: A Complete Catalogue of his Works with an Introductory Text. (Oxford: 1984) p. 288.

Fredericksen, Burton B. "Recent Acquisitions of Paintings: The J. Paul Getty Museum." The Burlington Magazine 127, no. 985 (April 1985) p. 265, cover ill.

"Acquisitions/1984." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 13 (1985) p. 205, no. 127, ill.

Jeromack, Paul. "Market Trends-Old Master Pictures." Art & Auction 8, no. 3 (September 1985) p. 85.

Fredericksen, Burton B. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Rev. ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1988) unpaginated, no. 13, ill.

Pepper, Stephen. Guido Reni: L'Opera completa. (Novara: 1988) pp. 300, 343, no. 64, pl. XVI.

Ebert-Schifferer, Sybille, ed. Guido Reni und Europa: Ruhm und Nachruhm. Frankfurt: Shirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt and Nuova Alfa Editoriale, 1988 p. 232-33, ill.

Levey, Michael. "Frankfurt-am-Main: Guido Reni und Europa," exh. review. Burlington Magazine, vol. 131. (February 1989) p. 170.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) p. 104, ill.

Schaefer, Scott. "The Bolognese Baroque in Los Angeles and Southern California." In Captured Emotions: Baroque Painting in Bologna, 1575-1725, exh. cat. Andreas Henning and Scott Schaefer, eds. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008) pp. 112, 115, pl. 43.