The painting captures a moment of respite, during the flight to Egypt, with the Holy Family resting by a meadow, against a typically Venetian, hilly background. The message of the painting is more allegorical than specific, in view of the historical anachronism, of associating the infant Jesus with an adult John the Baptist, whereas it is known, that they were of the same age. This association centres the painting in terms of its composition, the Infant climbing on the strong breast of the Baptist, who has his eyes downcast, realizing a complementary up and down movement, in an admirable illustration of John’s words: “He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn 3, 30). ©Dana Roxana Hrib, European Art Gallery Guidebook, Second edition, Sibiu 2011.


  • Title: The Holy Family, with Saint John the Baptist
  • Date: 1540 - 1560
  • artist: PARIS BORDONE
  • Physical Dimensions: w104 x h63 cm (without frame)
  • Collecting: Brukenthal National Museum, Sibiu, Romania
  • Artist Biography: Very little was published about Paris Bordone, even in modern times; most of the information we have about him comes from Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects. He was born in Treviso, and was apprenticed briefly to Titian, whose personality clashed with his. In spite of this, and in spite of the fact that he preferred to work in the manner of Giorgione, today it is widely accepted that he received Giorgione’s influence through the mediation of Titian, whose style he clearly follows throughout his career. Around the year 1538, he visited France and Germany and came to know the rhythmic grace and sensuality of the style of his Italian colleagues, whom he met at Fontainebleau. By the end of the third decade of the 16th century, his manner reaches a relative balance, between the sumptuous use of colour he learned from Titian, and the adventurous freedom of Mannerist composition. By now he was a well-known and popular artist, his workshop turning out works commissioned all over Europe. ©Dana Roxana Hrib, European Art Gallery Guidebook, Second edition, Sibiu 2011.
  • Provenance: Brukenthal National Museum
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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