Saint Joseph and the Christ Child, second half of 17th century
Attributed to Nicolaas van der Veken (Flemish, 1637–1709)
Boxwood; 10 11/16 x 4 13/16 x 2 5/16 in. (27.1 x 12.2 x 5.9 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1971 (1971.68)
In the Baroque era, the Jesuits promoted the veneration of Christ's earthly father as an active, youthful parent and regarded him as a model to be imitated by husbands and fathers. Artists were encouraged to help the faithful imagine aspects of Joseph's life missing from the scant descriptions in the Gospels, such as this elegantly tender portrayal of him protecting the Child.