The Holy Family with the Infant St. John the Baptist and St. Elizabeth
1650-51
Nicolas Poussin (French, 1594-1665)
On View

Nicolas Poussin is considered to be one of the great French painters of the modern world. He is revered for developing a personal, innovative and rigorous style based on classical precedents and the High Renaissance. Through precisely orchestrated narratives, and the concentration of emotional response, Poussin produced paintings of outstanding originality.

This is one of Poussin’s most lyrical depictions of the Holy Family, a subject that occupied him during the 1650s. The Virgin and Saint Joseph look on as Saint John the Baptist and Christ playfully embrace. On the right is a procession of Christ’s first martyrs, the Holy Innocents. Their gestures point to the Christ Child, whose sacrifice on the cross will redeem their martyred souls. Two Innocents carry a basin with water, one carries a towel, which may refer to the Shroud of the Passion, and another kneels to adore the Holy Child. In the distance, a family in a boat, and two men on horseback, may recall the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt. The combination of figures and motifs in the composition suggest a message of purification and salvation.

Details

  • Artist Name: Nicolas Poussin (French, 1594-1665)
  • Title: The Holy Family with the Infant St. John the Baptist and St. Elizabeth
  • Date: 1650-51
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 39-5/8 x 52-1/8 in. (100.6 x 132.4 cm)
  • Credit Line: Jointly owned by the Norton Simon Art Foundation, Pasadena and The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Accession Number: M.1981.6.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

Charles, 3rd Duc de Créquy (d. 1687), Artois-Picardie, France, commissioned 1651.
Raoul de La Porte, Paris, by c. 1713?
William Cavendish (d.1764), 4th Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth, Derbyshire, England (picture hanging in Devonshire House, London, by 1761), by inheritance to;
William Cavendish (d. 1811), 5th Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth, Derbyshire, England (picture hanging in Devonshire House, London), by inheritance to;
William George Spencer Cavendish (d. 1858), 6th Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth, Derbyshire, England (picture transferred from Devonshire House, London, to Chatsworth, c. 1835), by inheritance to;
William Cavendish (d. 1891), 7th Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth, Derbyshire, England, by inheritance to;
Spencer Compton Cavendish (d. 1908), 8th Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth, Derbyshire, England, by inheritance to;
Victor Christian William Cavendish (d. 1938), 9th Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth, Derbyshire, England, by inheritance to;
Edward William Spencer Cavendish (d. 1950), 10th Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth, Derbyshire, England, by inheritance to;
Andrew Robert Buxton Cavendish, 11th Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth, Derbyshire, England (sale, London, Christie's, 10 April 1981, lot 100, to);
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Pasadena, and The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

17th Century French Art

  • Bristol, 1938 to 1938
Jacques Thuillier, Nicolas Poussin, fig. 198 pp. 557, 204, 371
Smith, J., A Catalogue Raisonné of the works of the most eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters, p. 43
Rosenberg, P., Nicolas Poussin: 1594-1665, no. 210 pp. 463-365
Felibien, A., Entretiens sur les vies et les ouvrages des plus excellents peintres anciens et modernes, pp. 62, 302
Mahon, D., Gazette des Beaux-Arts, pp. 118, 120
Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, cat. 1671 p. 433
Magne, E., Nicolas Poussin premier peinture du roi, p. 213
Verdi, R., Nicolas Poussin, n. 39 pp. 30, 41
Florent Le Comte, Cabinet de Singularitez etc., pp. 31-32
Friedländer, Walter, Nicolas Poussin, A New Approach, pp. 68, 170
Grautoff, O., Nicolas Poussin: sein Werk und sein Leben, p. 256
Dempsey, Charles, The Burlington Magazine, fig. 38 pp. 311-313
Brice, G., Description nouvelle de ce qu'il y de plus remarquable dans la ville de Paris, p. 191
Blunt, Anthony, The Paintings of Nicolas Poussin: a Critical Approach, no. 58
Friedländer, Walter, Nicolas Poussin, Die Entwicklung seinen Kunst, p. 120
Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, p. 62
Dodsley, R.; and J. Dodsley, London and its Environs Described, p. 226
Badt, K., Die Kunst des Nicolas Poussin, pp. 365-366
Waagen, G. F., Treasures of Art in Great Britian, p. 93
Magne, E., Images de Paris sous Louis XIV, p. 186
Waagen, Gustav, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, p. 347
Martyn, T., The English Connoisseur, p. 42
Thuillier, J., Tout l'oeuvre peint de Poussin, no. 79
Rosenberg, Pierre, France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth Century French Paintings in American Collections, p. 313
Blunt, Anthony, The Burlington Magazine, p. 160
The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections, p. 118
Waagen, G. F., Kunstwerke und Kunstler in England und Paris, p. 93
Wild, D., Nicolas Poussin, pp. 153-154, 212
Lomenie, L., Memoires, p. 216
Bertin-Mourot, T., Bulletin de la Société Poussin, p. 48
Listen
Audio Tour
English | Español
Read
Audio Tour Transcript
English | Español
Escuchar
Audioguía
English | Español
Leer
Transcripción de Audioguía
English | Español

Additional Artwork by Artist

Camillus and the Schoolmaster of Falerii Nicolas Poussin c. 1635-40

Image reproduction permission may be granted for scholarly or arts related commercial use. All image requests, regardless of their intended purpose, should be submitted via the reproduction request form.

Images may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. Additional permission may be required.

Approved requests for the reproduction of an image will receive a contract detailing all fees and conditions of use of the image. Upon receipt of both the signed contract and full payment, the Office of Rights and Reproductions will provide the image. A complimentary copy of the published material must be provided to the Norton Simon Museum.

Reproduction Request Form