Oil painting on panel, The Holy Family with the Infant John the Baptist and St Anne, after Sir Peter Paul Rubens (Siegen 1577 – Antwerp 1640). The Virgin, seated in red in the centre of the picture, holds the Christ Child half-standing on her lap, holding a dove that he is withholding from St John, who is advancing from the left to snatch it. St Joseph, in black with a brown cloak, leans over from the left behind the Virgin, whilst St Anne, dressed in an orange-brown cloak and white kerchief leans over the Virgin from the right, with her right arm over her right shoulder, and supporting her left hand on a plinth.
This is a copy of an early work by Rubens, painted around 1609, that has no known early history and is now in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and that is on a much larger panel, measuring 55 x 47 ins. (140 x 121 cm.) (cf. M. Jaffé, Rubens; Catalogo Completo, Milan, 1989, no.87). A panel closer in size to the present one (26 x 20 ¼ ins.; 66 x 51.5 cm.), whose attribution to Rubens is not universally accepted, and whose history goes no further back than the 5th Earl of Dartmouth's collection by 1886, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (cf. Walter A. Liedtke, Flemish Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1984, vol. I, pp. 209-213 and vol. II, pls. 79 and 80).
Accepted by HM Treasury in lieu of inheritance tax and transferred to the National Trust under the terms of the will of Mrs Christopher Hussey (1907-2006)
Makers and roles
after Sir Peter Paul Rubens (Siegen 1577 - Antwerp 1640), artist