The J. Paul Getty Museum

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

Object Number:



96.7 × 75.6 cm (38 1/16 × 29 3/4 in.)

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Object Description

Better known for grand, monumental compositions and illusionistic decorations, here Lanfranco painted on a smaller scale, successfully portraying an intimate moment between the Madonna, her son, and her nephew. While the Madonna tenderly caresses her son, the two children extend their arms toward each other, expressing both familial and divine love. The goldfinch held carelessly in the Christ Child's left hand can be interpreted as a prefiguration of the Passion. According to legend, as Christ was led to die on Calvary, a goldfinch flew down and plucked a thorn from his bleeding skin splashing itself with his blood in the process, thus acquiring its characteristic spot of red on its plumage.

While working in Rome, Lanfranco received several commissions from Pope Urban VIII (1623–1644), a member of the Barberini family, and great patron of the arts. The painting’s frame—a type that was often used in the Barberini Palace—has led to suggestions that this intimate scene was intended for display in one of the family’s private chapels. 

by 1649 - 1679

Possibly Cardinal Francesco Barberini, 1597 - 1679 (Rome, Italy), by inheritance to his nephew, Cardinal Carlo Barberini, 1679.
Source: 2. PI, Archival Inventory I-3730 (Barberini), item 0052, Cardinal Francesco Barberini, senior, Palazzo della Cancelleria, 1679, f. 16 v., no. 52

1679 - 1704

Cardinal Carlo Barberini, 1630 - 1704 (Rome, Italy), probably by inheritance to his nephew, Cardinal Francesco Barberini, 1704.
Source: PI, Archival Inventory I-3736 (Barberini), item 0333, Cardinal Carlo Barberini, Palazzo Barberini alle Quattro Fontane,1692/1704, f. 219, no. 324

1704 - 1738

Cardinal Francesco Barberini, 1662 - 1738 (Rome, Italy)
Source: PI, Archival Inventory I-529 (Barberini), item 0213, Cardinal Francesco Barberini, junior, 1738, no. 543

by 1911

Anna Barberini Corsini, 1840 - 1911 (Florence, Italy)
Source: JPGM Paintings Curatorial File, Anne Barberini Corsini estate inventory, 1911, no. 48, as Simone Cantarini.


Private Collection (Switzerland)

by 1980 - 1984

Colnaghi Gallery 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)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), December 16, 2008 to May 3, 2009

Lavin, Marilyn Aronberg. Seventeenth-Century Barberini Documents and Inventories of Art (New York: New York University Press, 1975), p. 440 (VI, inv. 92-04, fol. 219 r., no. 324).

Schleier, Erich, ed. Disegni di Giovanni Lanfranco (1582-1647), exh. cat. (Florence: Galleria degli Uffizi, 1983), p. 158.

Colnaghi, New York. Italian, Dutch and Flemish Baroque Paintings. April 4-May 5, 1984, p. 38, lot 18, ill., entry by C. Whitfield.

"Acquisitions/1984." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 13 (1985), p. 205, no. 126, ill.

Hall, Nicholas H. J., ed. Colnaghi in America: A Survey to Commemorate the First Decade of Colnaghi New York (New York: Colnaghi, 1992), p. 130.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 70, 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. 110, 112, 114, pl. 42.