- Reference number
- Dyck, Anton van (Flemish)
- The Christ Child and Saint John
- 131 cm x 75 cm
- On display
- Colección Real (colección del marqués del Carpio, 1677; Palacio de la Zarzuela, El Pardo-Madrid, sala primera, 1701, s.n.; La Zarzuela, pieza tercera, 1747, nº 25; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, antecámara de la princesa, 1772, nº 964 [dupl.]; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, oratorio reservado, 1794, nº 964; Palacio Real, Madrid, gabinete, 1814-1818, nº 964).
Saint John is depicted with his customary symbols, a cross with a ribbon bearing the motto “Lamb of God.” Indeed, there is a lamb beside him, which the Christ Child tenderly pets. The fountain on the right is a double allusion to the Baptism of Christ and to his condition as the “fountain of life.”
The close human and everyday vision of the two boys belongs to a tradition posterior to the Catholic Church's Counterreformation, which this sort of votive scenes became popular among the faithful, and also among collectors of paintings.
Van Dyck uses a composition that was quite customary in his double portraits, combining the frontal placement of one character with a scorzo profile of the other. This gave the works a greater formal dynamism.
This painting was consecutively attributed to Jordaens, Rubens and Van Dyck, and is probably the work that entered the Royal Collection in 1691 by way of the collection of the Marquis of El Carpio.