The Virgin and Child with Saint Elizabeth and the Young Saint John the Baptist

Benedetto Cervi1520s - 1530s

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

This narrative relief illustrates a scene from a popular thirteenth-century text that emphasized the humanity of Christ and the Virgin Mary. With the Christ child on her lap, Mary is approached by young Saint John the Baptist and his mother, the Virgin's cousin Saint Elizabeth. The elderly Elizabeth helps her son along as he walks toward Jesus to offer him a globe, a sign of Christ's role as savior of the world. Two small boys, possibly angels, accompany the group. At the center of the relief, a prominently placed tree likely signifies the Tree of Life.

The relief may have formed part of a larger sculptural complex, although it would also have been appropriate for an altar. Because of the rarity of its subject and its extraordinarily high quality, it is also possible that the relief stood on its own as a devotional image in a private chapel.

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  • Title: The Virgin and Child with Saint Elizabeth and the Young Saint John the Baptist
  • Creator: Benedetto Cervi
  • Date: 1520s - 1530s
  • Location Created: Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: 29.2 x 27.9 x 7.5 cm (11 1/2 x 11 x 2 15/16 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Marble
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Signature: On the underside of the relief, "B[s] PP (Benedictus Papie, or Benedetto of Pavia)
  • Object Type: Sculpture
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 2000.19
  • Display Location: Currently on view at: Getty Center, Museum North Pavilion, Gallery N103
  • Department: Sculpture & Decorative Arts
  • Culture: Italian
  • Classification: Sculpture