The Holy Family1522. Oil on panel, 90 x 74 cm.
The Holy Family is shown indoors, in front of a window thought which a costal landscape is visible. The Christ Child stands on a sumptuous carpet and plays with his mother. Saint Joseph holds an apple —an allusion to the Garden of Eden-that symbolizes Mary´s condition as the new Eve. An Angel crowns the Virgin as Queen of Heaven while another offers her a basket of flowers like those resting on the table, alluding to the Passion Jesus must suffer to save humankind from sin. This panel owes much to Raphael, whose cartoons for Acts of the Apostles were studied by Van Orley in Brussels. The artist includes a cartouche with his signature in Roman characters and the date. Here, van Orley combines his first-hand knowledge of Italian art with a meticulous technique —visible in Saint Joseph´s beard— that he acquired during his training.