- Reference number
- The Holy Family with a Lamb
- 28 cm x 21,5 cm
- On display
- Royal Collection
The Virgin Mary helps the Christ Child to mount a lamb. Leaning on his staff, Saint Joseph looks on. The scene is set in an idyllic landscape with a church, a castle tower and some houses in the background. In Christian symbolism, the Lamb refers to Christ's Passion.
The three years Raphael spent in Florence allowed him to deepen his knowledge of Leonardo da Vinci's artworks, which he absorbed and interpreted in a personal way. The present work is an example of this, as it is inspired by Leonardo's drawing for the main altarpiece of the church of Santa Annunziata in Florence. But the relations between the characters and the dynamism of their gestures and gazes, which interrelates them, is the unquestionable mark of Raphael in the context of a classical style of serene beauty.
A preparatory drawing by Raphael for this painting is now in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. The present work entered the Royal Collection in the late eighteenth century, when Carlos IV (1748-1819) bought it from the Falconieri Collection in Rome. After hanging in the Monastery of El Escorial, it entered the Prado Museum in 1837.