Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist

Object Details


Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist


Giovanni Lanfranco (Italian, 1582 - 1647)




about 1630 - 1632


Oil on canvas


96.7 x 75.6 cm (38 1/16 x 29 3/4 in.)

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While the Madonna tenderly caresses her son Jesus and her nephew the infant Saint John the Baptist, the two children extend their arms toward each other, expressing both familial and divine love. Yet, because each of the boys tucks his nearer arm in toward his body, the composition remains open. The goldfinch held carelessly in the Christ Child's left hand symbolizes his future Crucifixion.

This painting's small scale and sensitive, poetic intimacy contrast with Giovanni Lanfranco's more usual grand, illusionistic decorations. The painting's frame, a type that was often used in the Barberini Palace in Rome, hints at the picture's previous location. Lanfranco may have painted it for a private chapel owned by the Barberini, Pope Urban VIII's family and leading patrons of Baroque art in Rome in the 1600s.

by 1649 - 1679

Possibly Cardinal Francesco Barberini, 1597 - 1679 (Rome, Italy), by inheritance to his nephew, Cardinal Carlo Barberini, 1679.

1679 - 1704

Cardinal Carlo Barberini, 1630 - 1704 (Rome, Italy), probably by inheritance to his nephew, Cardinal Francesco Barberini, 1704.

1704 - 1738

Cardinal Francesco Barberini, 1662 - 1738 (Rome, Italy)

by 1911

Anna Barberini Corsini, 1840 - 1911 (Florence, Italy), estate inventory, 1911, no. 48, as Simone Cantarini.

Private Collection (Switzerland)

Private Collection (England)

by 1980 - 1984

P & D Colnaghi & Co. Ltd. (New York) (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

Captured Emotions: Baroque Painting in Bologna 1575-1725 (December 16, 2008 to May 3, 2009) (pl. 42)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 16, 2008 to May 3, 2009