About this artwork

The informal figure group, inspired by a composition of Raphael's, is shown in a courtyard at night. It is just possible to glimpse Joseph with a lamp leading a donkey through the background arch. The animated contact between the two children draws attention to Latin lettering on the scroll, part of St John's description of Christ as 'the Lamb of God'. The precariously balanced figures and the strident, contrasting colours are characteristic of Giulio Romano's mannerism.

Updated before 2020

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Giulio Romano (Giulio Pippi)

Giulio Romano (Giulio Pippi)

Giulio Romano was one of Raphael's most talented students, and with fellow student Gianfrancesco Penni continued to run his master's workshop after Raphael's death in 1520. He moved from Rome to Mantua in 1524 entering the service of Duke Federico II Gonzaga as court painter, designer and architect. Giulio Romano's technical skills and inventiveness were particularly expressed through his many drawings. He became a major exponent of the Mannerist style evident in his masterpiece for the Duke: the architecture and fresco decoration of the Palazzo del Te in Mantua.