The Holy Family with the Infant St. John the Baptist and St. Elizabeth
Nicolas Poussin (French, 1594-1665)
Not 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.


  • 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

Loan Exhibition of French Paintings of the XVIIth Century

  • Wildenstein & Co. (London, England), 1947 to 1947

Exhibition of Pictures from the Devonshire Collection, In Aid of the Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, on the occasion of the Centenary of the Museum

  • London, Thomas Agnew & Sons, 1948-10 to 1948-11

Landscape in French Art 1550-1900

  • London, Royal Academy, 1949-12-10 to 1950-03-05

Paintings from Chatsworth House

  • Leeds, City Art Gallery, 1954 to 1955

Treasures from Chatsworth: The Devonshire Inheritance

  • London, Royal Academy, 1979 to 1981

Nicolas Poussin 1594-1665: Poussin Retrospective (400th Anniversary of Artist's Birth)

  • Paris, Grand Palais, 1994-09-27 to 1995-01-02

A Painting in Focus: Nicolas Poussin's 'Holy Family on the Steps'

  • Cleveland Museum of Art, 1999-11-14 to 2000-01-23

Poussin et la peinture religieuse

  • Musée du Louvre, 2015-03-30 to 2015-06-29

Art Treasures Centenary: European Old Masters

  • Manchester, City Art Gallery, 1957-10-30 to 1957-12-31

Reinstallation of Galleries: Art History of the 17th and 18th Century Gains Fresh Dimension

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1993-09-02 to 1995-08-13
  • Dempsey, Charles, The Burlington Magazine, fig. 38 pp. 311-313
  • Verdi, R., Nicolas Poussin, n. 39 pp. 30, 41
  • Rosenberg, P., Nicolas Poussin: 1594-1665, no. 210 pp. 463-365
  • Wild, D., Nicolas Poussin, pp. 153-154, 212
  • Mahon, D., Gazette des Beaux-Arts, pp. 118, 120
  • Blunt, Anthony, The Burlington Magazine, p. 160
  • Felibien, A., Entretiens sur les vies et les ouvrages des plus excellents peintres anciens et modernes, 1688, pp. 62, 302
  • Florent Le Comte, Cabinet de Singularitez etc., 1699, pp. 31-32
  • Brice, G., Description nouvelle de ce qu'il y de plus remarquable dans la ville de Paris, 1713, p. 191
  • Dodsley, R.; and J. Dodsley, London and its Environs Described, 1761, p. 226
  • Martyn, T., The English Connoisseur, 1766, p. 42
  • Waagen, G. F., Kunstwerke und Kunstler in England und Paris, 1827, p. 93
  • Smith, J., A Catalogue Raisonné of the works of the most eminent Dutch, Flemish and French Painters, 1837, p. 43
  • Waagen, G. F., Treasures of Art in Great Britian, 1854, p. 93
  • Waagen, Gustav, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, 1854, p. 347
  • Friedländer, Walter, Nicolas Poussin, Die Entwicklung seinen Kunst, 1914, p. 120
  • Grautoff, O., Nicolas Poussin: sein Werk und sein Leben, 1914, p. 256
  • Magne, E., Nicolas Poussin premier peinture du roi, 1914, p. 213
  • Lomenie, L., Memoires, 1916, p. 216
  • Magne, E., Images de Paris sous Louis XIV, 1939, p. 186
  • Bertin-Mourot, T., Bulletin de la Société Poussin, 1948, p. 48
  • Friedländer, Walter, Nicolas Poussin, A New Approach, 1966, pp. 68, 170
  • Blunt, Anthony, The Paintings of Nicolas Poussin: a Critical Approach, 1966, no. 58
  • Badt, K., Die Kunst des Nicolas Poussin, 1969, pp. 365-366
  • Thuillier, J., Tout l'oeuvre peint de Poussin, 1974, no. 79
  • Rosenberg, Pierre, France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth Century French Paintings in American Collections, 1982, p. 313
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, 1989, p. 62
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections, 1991, p. 118
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 1671 p. 433
  • Jacques Thuillier, Nicolas Poussin, 2015, fig. 198 pp. 557, 204, 371
Audio Tour
English | Español
Audio Tour Transcript
English | Español
English | Español
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