This painting was originally smaller, featuring only the Virgin Mary, the Christ Child and the crib. Peter Paul Rubens probably enlarged it on the left in 1633 when he presented it to the Guild of St Luke in gratitude for his appointment that year as the dean of the painters’ corporation. He added the parrot, vines, landscape and the figure of St Joseph to the painting some time around 1630 – a dating based on stylistic grounds. The painting was further enlarged over its full width at both the top and the bottom after Rubens’s death. A variety of symbolic elements can be found in the painting. The Christ Child holds an apple in his right hand, referring to the Fall of Adam and Eve. The grapevine and the parrot are symbols of Mary’s role as intercessor and of the virgin birth. The parrot is a blue-and-yellow macaw (Ara ararauna). Restored with the support of the Inbev-Baillet Latour Fund.


  • Title: The Holy Family with the Parrot
  • Creator: Peter Paul Rubens
  • Location: (Siegen 1577 - Antwerp 1640)

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