Carlo Maratta, ambito di

Carlo Maratta, ambito di

CARLO MARATTA, circle of

Camerano, 1625 – Rome, 1713

Holy Family and the Young Saint John

oil on canvas, cm 122×92

The canvas depicts the Virgin nursing Jesus. The latter is naked, perched on a balustrade in the foreground and resting on a white cloth and a cushion that appears to be made of velvet. The Child holds an apple in his hand. Behind the central group on the left is Saint Joseph, who is bringing a finger up to his mouth with his usual air of overthinking, while on the other side of the canvas we see a young man who is easy to identify as Saint John the Baptist.

The canvas replicates a successful composition by Carlo Maratta, who painted at least two versions of this theme, one now in the Biblioteca Nazionale in Florence and the other in the collection of the Dukes of Alba in the Palacio Liria in Madrid.

Carlo Maratta was by far the most influential painter in Rome in the late 17th and early 18th century. His workshop was frequented by numerous artists who adapted their style to the master’s instructions. It is therefore very difficult to separate their catalogues and make attributions for paintings, such as the one in question, which derive from an idea by Maratta.

However, the consistent quality of the central group suggests a figure very close to Carlo, even if the Saint Joseph in the background differs from the works by the Marche painter. It is also worth mentioning the Nursing Madonna that descends from the same model and can be found in the Pinacoteca Civica in Ascoli Piceno. This piece is attributed to one of Maratta’s greatest followers, Ludovico Trasi, who worked extensively in Rome and also in his hometown of Ascoli Piceno.