Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri)

The Virgin and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist

About this artwork

The half-length seated Virgin, the sleeping Christ Child and Saint John the Baptist are presented in dramatic close-up. They are not idealised and are modelled in heavily contrasted light and shadow. The intense colouring and bold foreshortening, especially of the Virgin's hand, pointing to the inscription on the Baptist's scroll 'Ecce Agnus Dei' ('Behold the Lamb of God') are characteristic of Guercino's early style. The Christ Child's pose, asleep on a white cloth, deliberately alludes to later events when his mother supports his dead body, as depicted in scenes known as the pietà, or the lamentation over the dead Christ.

Audio commentary

This commentary is part of the National audio tour. Listen to the whole tour in Smartify.

Updated before 2020

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Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri)

Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri)