Holy Family (Watteau)

Holy Family (La Sainte Famille), also called The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, is an oil on canvas painting by the French Rococo artist Antoine Watteau, now in the Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg. Variously dated between 1714 and 1721, Holy Family is possibly the rarest surviving religious subject in Watteau's art, related to either the Gospel of Matthew, or the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew; it depicts the Virgin, the Christ Child, and Saint Joseph amid a landscape, surrounded by putti.

Holy Family
fr: La Sainte Famille
Antoine Watteau, La Sainte Famille (1719).jpg
ArtistAntoine Watteau
Yearca. 1714–1721
CatalogueH 6; G 31; DV 26; R 1; HA 181; EC 194; F B98; RM 236; RT 103
Mediumoil on canvas
Dimensions129 cm × 97.2 cm (51 in × 38.3 in)
LocationHermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg

In the early 18th century, Holy Family belonged to Watteau's close friends, the royal councilor Nicolas Hénin and the manufacturer Jean de Jullienne; by the middle of that century, it entered the collection of Polish-Saxon statesman Heinrich, Count von Brühl. As part of the Brühl collection, the painting was acquired in 1769 for the Hermitage, then recently established by Empress Catherine II of Russia. Since the mid-19th century, it was present in the Tauride Palace, and later in the Gatchina Palace near Saint Petersburg; after the Russian Revolution, Holy Family entered the Hermitage again in 1920.

Exhibition historyEdit

List of exhibitions featuring the work
Year Title Location Cat. no. References
1908 Les anciennes écoles de peinture dans les palais et collections privées russes Imperial Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Saint Petersburg 296 [1][2]
1922–1925 Temporary exhibition of new acquisition from French painting of the 17th and 18th centuries Hermitage Museum, Petrograd (later Leningrad) * [3]
1965 Chefs-d'oeuvre de la peinture française dans les musees de l'Ermitage et de Moscou Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux, Bordeaux 46 [4]: 611–612 
1965–1966 Chefs-d'oeuvre de la peinture française dans les musees de l'Ermitage et de Moscou Louvre, Paris 44 [5][6]: 614 
1972 Watteau and His Time Hermitage Museum, Leningrad 9 [7][8]
1984 Антуан Ватто. 300 лет со дня рождения Hermitage Museum, Leningrad * [9]
1984–1985 Watteau 1684–1721 National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris; Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin P. 30 [10]
General references: Grasselli, Rosenberg & Parmantier 1984, p. 316, Nemilova 1985b, p. 458.
"*" denotes an unnumbered entry.


  1. ^ Старые годы: Каталог выставки картин (in Russian). Saint Petersburg: Sirius. 1908. p. 56 – via the Internet Archive.
  2. ^ Benois 1908, pp. 728–729, translated into French as Benois 1910, pp. 113–114; Weiner 1909, pp. 249–250; Benois 2006, pp. 18, 21.
  3. ^ Miller 1923, pp. 58–59; Ernst 1928, pp. 169–170.
  4. ^ Charensol, Georges (June 15, 1965). "Les musées de Russie a Bordeaux". Revue des Deux Mondes (in French): 607–613. JSTOR 44590025.
  5. ^ Lemoyne de Forges, Marie-Thérèse, ed. (1965). Chefs-d'oeuvre de la peinture française dans les musées de Léningrad et de Moscou (exhibition catalogue). Paris: Ministère d'État des affaires culturelles. pp. 114–115; cat. no. 44. OCLC 1138863.
  6. ^ Charensol, Georges (October 15, 1965). "L'Ermitage au Louvre". Revue des Deux Mondes (in French): 610–616. JSTOR 44591522.
  7. ^ Hermitage Museum, Leningrad (1972). Ватто и его время (exhibition catalogue) (in Russian). Leningrad: Avrora. pp. 15, 21. OCLC 990348938.
  8. ^ Cailleux 1972, p. 734: "[…] and we can easily see all that the marvellous, transparent, fluent Rest on the Flight into Egypt (No. 9) owes to Rubens…"
  9. ^ Deryabina, E. V. (1987). "Антуан Ватто. 300 лет со дня рождения". Сообщения Государственного Эрмитажа (in Russian). 52: 75. ISSN 0132-1501.
  10. ^ Opperman 1988, p. 359: "He investigated the "high" art of the Old Masters and the French Academy (La sainte famille, no. 30; Diane au bain; "Nymph and Satyr"; the Crozat Seasons), as recently discussed by Donald Posner."

Further readingEdit

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