The Holy Family with Saint Elizabeth and the Infant John the Baptist

Polidoro da Caravaggio Italian

Not on view

This delicate composition is full of luminous and atmospheric effects achieved through a masterful use of washes. It depicts the Holy Family with Saint Anne (she is less likely Saint Elizabeth) and the infant Saint John the Baptist seated in a landscape-a "Rest on the Flight into Egypt" with some artistic license. As the drawing exhibits faint traces of squaring, it seems clear that it served as a preparatory modello (demonstration drawing) for a painting or another type of two-dimensional work. The outlines of the figures are confidently sketched, the application of the washes is free and airy, and the landscape is drawn with a suggestive economy of line. The study was probably produced between 1520 and 1525, during the artist's late Roman period. The figural style here still reflects the vocabulary of the late works of Raphael (1483-1520), with whom Polidoro studied, but the monumentality of form and expressiveness of line are fully his own. Born at Caravaggio in Lombardy in northwest Italy, Polidoro was one of the most original artists of his generation working in Rome, Naples, and Sicily.
(Carmen C. Bambach, 2009)

The Holy Family with Saint Elizabeth and the Infant John the Baptist, Polidoro da Caravaggio (Italian, Caravaggio ca. 1499–ca. 1543 Messina), Pen and brown ink, brush and brown and grayish brown wash over black chalk with white heightening, traces of squaring in pen and brown ink (especially evident at lower right and lower left).

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