Virgin with Child and the Infant Saint John the Baptist

Family and family relations

Maternity / Paternity

This small-scale work of the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus and the infant Saint John was painted for private veneration. This type of arrangement, known at times as the Holy Family composition despite representing only the Virgin Mary, was often painted to include St. Anne, mother of the Virgin, or St. Elizabeth, her cousin. Not representing Joseph points to the intention of highlighting the divine, not earthly conception of Jesus. Mary is wed to Joseph after the Immaculate Conception to avoid being stoned, a punishment that was often imposed on women who became pregnant out of wedlock. Society has historically punished single mothers and women who have maintained extramarital relations with humiliation and exclusion, while being much more forgiving of men in the same situation.