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A Family of Shepherds
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This image is available for download, without charge, under the Getty's Open Content Program.

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione
Italian, about 1640
Brush and colored oil paint, over traces of black chalk
13 7/8 x 19 3/16 in.
2000.38

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In making this drawing, Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione may have originally intended to illustrate a Biblical scene, such as the flight of Mary and Joseph to Egypt. Instead he produced an entirely new type of pastoral subject: a young mother seated on the ground nursing her children. She is noticeably at home amidst the animals and the surrounding landscape. A classically posed male figure, presumably the father, casually leans on his horse, looking toward his family. The lazy-looking dog to the left of the composition is a stock figure that appears in some of the artist's other drawings. Castiglione conceived of this unusually large drawing as an independent work of art, and employed his characteristic, vigorous brushstrokes to convey a sense of vitality.