The Holy Family with St Elizabeth and the Infant St John the Baptist Peter Paul Rubens Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Holy Family with St Elizabeth and the Infant St John the Baptist is particularly similar to another Rubens painting, The Holy Family with St Anne, with the artist adjusting the layout of his models but keeping most of the composition and style pretty much the same.

In comparing the two paintings you will see the same figures, with the artist simply shuffling them around to change the focus of the painting. Rubens did this on many occassions, creating multiple versions of similar content as a means to experiment and develop his techniques. Artists are renowned for seeking perfection and perhaps that is another reason for him to revisit the same themes multiple times.

The elderly lady takes centre stage in this version, accompanying two young babies who feature Rubens' trademark approach to portraits of the young - light tones for skin with fair hair and healthy, curved tummys. The younger lady also sits alongside them, just approaching the shadows, whilst the bearded gentleman sits quietly at the back looking on. One of the babies sits on a table, whilst the elderly lady rests her legs and sits down with the other baby in her arms.

The main colours to be seen here are reds and blues from clothing, plus the traditional skin tones that persist throughout Rubens' career. Perhaps the theme here is of the wisdom of the elderly, as the old lady gives advice, presumably to her daughter, on how best to raise these babies. The younger woman listens intently, showing respect and interest in what is being said.