barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham

Bartolommeo Biscaino (1632-1657)

Holy Family

Italy, Genoa


Plate: 180 x 180 mm, mount: 557 x 404 mm

Mary lovingly clutches the young Christ, who stands upright in her lap as he turns his head to look at his father, Joseph. Biscaino’s delicate handling of the medium of etching is particularly evident in his use of chiaroscuro, the contrast between light and shadow. His lightness of touch creates a charming, idyllic scene which avoids excessive symbolism. Rather than foreshadowing the sacrifice to come, the work captures a tender and playful family moment. This etching is one of the fifty produced during Biscaino’s short life, many of which depicted scenes of the Holy Family.

Purchased in 1967 (No. 67.3)

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