Lorenzo di Ottavio Costa, Italian, c.1460-1535
Title: The Holy Family
Date: c.1500
Medium: Oil on panel
71 x 55 cm
Credit Line: Purchased, 1901
Object Number: NGI.526
Label TextThis tender portrayal of Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary adoring the Christ Child was probably a devotional painting intended for a domestic setting rather than for a church. The charm of the painting lies in the details, such as the delicate halos and the makeshift pillow, made from reeds, placed under the Christ Child’s head. However, this detail also foreshadows the Passion when soldiers mockingly placed a reed in Christ’s hand as a royal sceptre. Little is known about the early life of the north Italian painter Costa. He was primarily active in Bologna, before succeeding Andrea Mantegna as court painter to the Gonzaga family in Mantua.

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