The Holy Family with Saint Anne and the Young Baptist and His Parents

Jacob Jordaens (Flemish, Antwerp 1593–1678 Antwerp)

early 1620s and 1650s
Oil on wood
66 7/8 x 59 in. (169.9 x 149.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, 1871
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    Jordaens frequently revised his own paintings after many years, as he did here. The Christ Child, Mary and Joseph, the Virgin’s mother Saint Anne, and probably a version of the infant Saint John the Baptist were depicted as a close family gathering in the early 1620s. At least twenty-five years later the artist added boards to the oak panel and painted the Baptist’s parents, Saints Elizabeth and Zacharias, and an angel on the left. Their more painterly style contrasts with the Caravaggesque modeling of the earlier figures. The cartouche, inscribed "If the root be holy, so are the branches" (from Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Romans) was added during the second stage of work. The shift from intimate to didactic presentation is typical of Jordaens’s late work.

  • Catalogue Entry


  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Inscribed (lower center): RADIX SANTA ET RAMI / Rõm · 11 · 16 (If the root be holy, so are the branches [Romans 11:16].)

  • Provenance

    ?marquis du Blaisel (until 1870; sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, March 16–17, 1870, no. 71, for Fr 4,210); private collection, Paris (until 1870); William T. Blodgett, Paris (from 1870; sold half share to Johnston); William T. Blodgett, Paris, and John Taylor Johnston, New York (1870–71; sold to MMA)

  • Exhibition History

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Taste of the Seventies," April 2–September 10, 1946, no. 28.

  • References

    Jules-Ferdinand Jacquemart. Etchings of Pictures in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. London, 1871, pl. [5].

    Henry James. "The Metropolitan Museum's '1871 Purchase'." Atlantic Monthly (June 1872) [reprinted in John L. Sweeney, ed., "The Painter's Eye," London, 1956, pp. 53–54].

    W. Bode. "Alte Kunstwerke in den Sammlungen der Vereinigten Staaten." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, n.s., 6, no. 1 (1895), p. 18.

    Max Rooses. Jacob Jordaens, His Life and Work. London, 1908, p. 26, ill. p. 25 [German ed., "Jordaens' Leben und Werke," Stuttgart, 1890].

    R[udolf]. Oldenbourg. Die Flämische Malerei des XVII. Jahrhunderts. Berlin, 1922, p. 108, as an early work, painted before the influence of Rubens.

    Arthur von Schneider. Caravaggio und die Niederländer. Marburg, 1933, p. 100.

    "A Jordaens Exhibition in New York." Burlington Magazine 76 (March 1940), p. 100.

    Julius S. Held. "Jordaens' Portraits of his Family." Art Bulletin 22 (June 1940), pp. 79–80, fig. 11, dates it to the mid-1620s and the 1650s.

    R[oger].-A. d'Hulst. "L'Exposition Caravage à Milan." Les Art Plastiques 5 (1951), p. 145, fig. 78.

    Leo van Puyvelde. Jordaens. Paris, 1953, p. 93, erroneously as on canvas, and as having three figures on the left added by a collaborator working in Jordaens's style of the 1640s.

    Gregory Martin. The Flemish School, circa 1600–circa 1900. London, 1970, p. 90, under no. 3215, discusses the inscription.

    Joseph Philippe. "Nouvelles découvertes sur Jordaens." Jaarboek van het Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen (1970), p. 228 n. 58.

    Justus Müller Hofstede. "Abraham Janssens: Zur Problematik des flämischen Caravaggismus." Jahrbuch der Berliner Museen 13 (1971), p. 280.

    R[oger].-A. d'Hulst. Jordaens Drawings. London, 1974, vol. 1, p. 145, under no. A50.

    Amy Walsh. Unpublished catalogue entry. n.d., discusses the picture as a Protestant image.

    Jordaens in Belgisch bezit. Exh. cat., Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen. [Antwerp], 1978, p. 35, under no. 8, states that Catharina van Noort served as the model for the Virgin.

    R[oger].-A. d'Hulst. Jacob Jordaens. Ithaca, N.Y., 1982, pp. 90, 92, 331 n. 8.

    Walter A. Liedtke. Flemish Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, vol. 1, pp. 113–18, fig. 22 (radiograph); vol. 2, pl. 50, places Jordaens's original composition about 1625, and the revisions in the 1650s and 1660s.

    Walter A. Liedtke. "Flemish Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum—II: Van Dyck, Jordaens, Brouwer, and Others." Tableau 6 (February 15, 1984), pp. 31, 34, fig. 11.

    John Pope-Hennessy. "Roger Fry and The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Oxford, China, and Italy: Writings in Honour of Sir Harold Acton on his Eightieth Birthday. London, 1984, p. 231.

    Introduction by Walter A. Liedtke in Flemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Flemish Paintings in the Public Collections of North America. Antwerp, 1992, pp. 20, 344, no. 293, ill.

    R[oger].-A. d'Hulst et al. in "Paintings and Tapestries." Jacob Jordaens (1593–1678). Exh. cat., Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp. 1, Brussels, 1993, p. 70 n. 2, under no. A11.

    Peter C. Sutton. The Age of Rubens. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 1993, pp. 293–94 n. 14, suggests that the figure of Saint Anne was originally conceived as Saint Elizabeth, but was changed when the picture was expanded and a new figure of Saint Elizabeth was added.

    Katharine Baetjer. "Buying Pictures for New York: The Founding Purchase of 1871." Metropolitan Museum Journal 39 (2004), pp. 167, 169–70, 172–73, 179–80, 182, 197, 212, 244–45, appendix 1A no. 118, ill. p. 212 and figs. 3, 31 (floor plan).

  • Notes

    This panel represents one of several instances in which Jordaens revised an early painting after many years. The first composition included the Virgin and Child, Saints Joseph and Anne(?), and very probably a different rendering of the infant Saint John the Baptist and the lamb. The original panel, consisting of three boards joined vertically, is largely preserved here, but was evidently cut down at the left before it was enlarged by the addition of two vertical boards at the top and bottom. Jordaens seems to have repainted much of the original section, but some of these autograph overpaintings were removed during older restorations. The present state of the painting can be described generally as follows: the Holy Family and Saint Anne (in the wicker chair) were painted about 1620–25; Saint John, his parents, the angel, the lamb, and the areas above and below the Holy Family were added by Jordaens during the 1650s or early 1660s. A version of the original composition is now in the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich [see Ref. Liedtke 1984, fig. 21].

    Engraved for the Museum by Jules Jacquemart and published in "Etchings of Pictures in the Metropolitan Museum, New York," London, 1871.

    This work was formerly to have come from the Abbey of Averbode, Belgium; however, there is no record at the abbey of it ever having been there [see Ref. Walsh n.d.].

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History