CLEVE, Joos van
(b. ca. 1485, Antwerpen, d. 1540, Antwerpen)

The Holy Family

Oil on canvas transferred from wood, 43 x 32 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

The most popular devotional image by Joos van Cleve and his studio is a half-length composition of the Virgin presenting the Christ Child to the beholder on a stone parapet. In this example the Virgin-and-Child group is expanded into a Holy Family with the foster father Joseph. The Christ Child stands upright on the stone parapet, lovingly embraced by the Virgin. To deepen the mother-child relationship, the painter has retained the well-known "Maria lactans" motif, interpreted here in a playful fashion.