The Holy Family and John the Baptist

Nationality, Life:

Italian, c. 18th Century


c. 1700


Oil on canvas


20 x 18 in.

This highly intimate portrait of the Holy Family is indicative of the style and manner of the famous Mannerist painter Parmigianino. Born Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola in Parma, Italy, Parmigianino became Italy’s most influential Mannerist painter in his brief twenty-year career. His father and uncles taught him the techniques of painting, and by age sixteen he had already completed an altarpiece for a local church. Beginning in 1520, the celebrated Renaissance artist Correggio became his primary inspiration. Scholars believe that the younger artist may have assisted Correggio with his frescoes at a church in Parma, where Parmigianino may also have completed his own frescoes. In 1524 Parmigianino visited Rome to present a self-portrait to Pope Clement VII. There the young artist experienced Raphael and Michelangelo’s art firsthand, and his style became more grand, elegant, and noble. Scholars believe that Parmigianino was the first Italian artist to make etchings, and his work significantly influenced the art of printmaking.


Although painted later than Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola, this highly stylized portrait of Joseph and Mary with her elongated fingers and the intimate embrace between Jesus and John the Baptist, bears a remarkable resemblance to the works of Parmigianino.