Denys Calvaert

The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist in a Landscape (About 1590 - 1600)

About this artwork

The Holy Family rests during the Flight into Egypt, while angels provide refreshing fruit and spring water. The Christ Child blesses the infant St John the Baptist, whose reed cross is echoed by the wooden cross appearing in the miraculous vision above. Putti emerge from an opening in the clouds above the mountainous landscape, holding the instruments of Christ’s Passion: the cross and nails, and the column on which he is scourged. The smooth copper sheet on which this work is painted provided an ideal surface for Calvaert’s fluid style, enhancing the glowing colours and jewel-like finish.

Denys Calvaert

Denys Calvaert

Calvaert moved from Antwerp to Bologna, where his small colourful devotional paintings on copper became especially popular. He may have introduced this type of painting to the city, which became his home from about 1560. He concentrated on religious subjects, producing large altarpieces in addition to small detailed and highly finished works. Calvaert exerted a strong influence on the younger generation of Bolognese artists, such as Guido Reni and Domenichino, through his own paintings and through the academy he founded.