- Reference number
- Murillo, Bartolomé Esteban (Spanish)
- The Holy Children with a Shell
- Ca. 1670
- 104 cm x 124 cm
- On display
- Colección Real (colección Isabel Farnesio, Palacio de La Granja de San Ildefonso, Segovia, 1746, nº 968; La Granja, cuarto del señor infante son Luis-dormitorio, 1766, nº 968; Palacio de Aranjuez, Madrid, pieza de dormir los Reyes, 1794, nº 968; Palacio Real, Madrid, trascuarto de la reina-pieza de la chimenea colgada de encarnado, 1814-1818, nº 968).
The Christ child holds a shell for his cousin John to drink. The latter is identified by the cross and by a lamb. In the sky, the heavens open to reveal cherubs who witness the scene, making it holy. The phrase “Ecce Agnus Dei” on the cross's banner alludes to Christ's condition as the Lamb of God.
Murillo plays with the charm of subjects related to children, which were quite customary in his work, but at the same time, he foreshadows the baptism of Christ by John on the banks of the Jordan River.
The composition comes from a print by Guido Reni that was, in turn, inspired by Annibale Carracci.
It entered the Royal Collection through Queen Isabel Farnesio, a great collector of Murillo's work.