- Reference number
- The Holy Family with an Oak Tree
- 1518 - 1520
- 144 cm x 110 cm x 3 cm
- On display
- Royal Collection
Leaning on a classical ruin, Saint Joseph looks at the Virgin Mary with the Christ Child in her lap. Jesus, in turn, is receiving a roll with the words Ecce Agnus Dei from Saint John. This Latin inscription meaning Lamb of God refers to the Passion of Christ, who sacrifices himself, just as lambs were sacrified by the Jews, in order to save humanity from sin.
The oak tree standing behind the main group gives its name to the work and separates the figures from the background landscape and the ruins of the Caracalla Baths on the left.
The composition of this work was drawn by Rafael, who probably also made a first sketch, but it would be retouched and finished by Giulio Romano. We can see its similarity to the composition of The Pearl (P00301), also by Raphael, in the importance given to the landscape and the artist's interest in contrasting light. But the manner of grouping the figures is different: here they are arranged diagonally, rather than in pyramid form.
In 1640, Niccolò Ludovissi gave this work to Felipe IV (1605-1665) and it is listed as being in the Monastery of El Escorial in 1667.