- Reference number
- Murillo, Bartolomé Esteban (Spanish)
- The Holy Family with a Little Bird
- Ca. 1650
- 144 cm x 188 cm
- On display
- Colección Real (colección Miguel Espinosa, Sevilla; col. cardenal De Molina; adquisición de Isabel Farnesio, 1744; col. Isabel Farnesio, Palacio de La Granja de San Ildefonso, Segovia, dormitorio de sus majestades, 1746, nº 667; Palacio de Buenavista, Madrid, 1766, nº 667; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, cuarto del infante don Javier, 1772, nº 667; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, pieza de vestir [2ª], 1794, nº 667).
A domestic scene filled with tenderness showing the Virgin Mary winding a skein of thread and watching the Christ Child, who leans on Saint Joseph while he plays with a little bird and a dog. The almost leading role of the saint corresponds to the increased worship of his figure during the Counterreformation.
The apparently insignificant composition of this painting exalts home life, the family and work. The latter is symbolized by Saint Joseph's carpenter's bench and the Virgin's sewing basket.
The strong chiaroscuro lighting of this composition reflects the influence of Italian painters, especially Barocci (Urbino 1535-1612).
This work is listed in various private collections before it became a part of Queen Isabel de Farnesio's collection in 1746. It was taken to Paris by José I, were it was part of the Napoleonic Museum between 1810 and 1817. It entered the Prado Museum in 1819.