About this artwork

The Holy Family, at the left of Bassano's richly coloured work, acknowledges the visiting kings and their gifts. The central figure in the painting, however, is the king in the striped doublet. He may be identified as a portrait of the painting's patron, Jacopo Gisi. The two page-boys behind him may also be portraits of his sons. Bassano's interest in complex foreshortened poses is evident in the densely packed group, especially in the figures and animals seen from behind. Many details were based on his previous compositions and on his studies from nature, although the ruined architecture is adapted from a woodcut by Dürer.

Jacopo Bassano (Jacopo dal Ponte)

Jacopo Bassano (Jacopo dal Ponte)

Jacopo dal Ponte was named Bassano after his native town of Bassano del Grappa, near Venice. Born into a family of painters he received his initial training from his father and then studied in Venice. He became close friends with Tintoretto and Veronese. He returned to Bassano and ran the family workshop producing altarpieces, paintings of Biblical stories, some portraits and designs for a wide range of items including processional banners. He collected and made extensive use of prints as a resource for his compositions. Bassano favoured lively, crowded scenes full of naturalistic detail.