Friday, January 29, 2010

Christ in the House of His Parents

(click to enlarge) 
John Everett Millais
(English, 1829-1896)
Christ in the House of His Parents, 1849-50
Oil on canvas

This painting is full of Pre-Raphelite detail! Enlarge it and check it out! As for what's going on in the painting, Wikipedia sums it all up perfectly:
The painting depicts the young Jesus assisting Joseph in his workshop. Joseph is making a door, which is laid on his carpentry work-table. Jesus has cut his hand on an exposed nail, leading to a sign of the stigmata, prefiguring the crucifixion. As Saint Anne removes the nail with a pair of pincers, his concerned mother Mary offers her cheek for a kiss while Joseph examines his wounded hand. The young John the Baptist brings in water to wash the wound, prefiguring his later baptism of Christ. An assistant of Joseph's, representing potential future Apostles watches these events. In the background various objects are used to further point up the theological significance of the subject. A ladder, referring to Jacob's ladder is visible leaning against the back wall; a dove standing for the Holy Spirit rests on it. Other carpentry implements refer to the Holy Trinity. . . . The sheep in the fold in the background represent the future Christian flock.


  1. This is lovely! So much significance. I'm just wondering, is there any explanation for the expression on John the Baptist's face? Is is just worry for his cousin because he cut his hand? Or is it some sort of worry, because he knows of what's to come? Or neither?
    Also, what do the colors that Joseph and St. Anne mean? Because I know different colors mean different things, and I was wondering if they were of any particular significance.

  2. I think what the facial expressions mean is up to you. I always thought John looked a little sulky, but I think he's just supposed to be worried. ;)
    I don't know if there is any significance in the colors, other than Jesus and Mary both wearing white perhaps.