About the Image:
The Holy Family, consisting of the Child Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Saint Joseph, has been a popular subject in Christian art since the 1490s 1. Saint Joseph is often depicted in images of the Nativity, where he is found in Scripture 2. In these images, Mary is central to the scene and the animals adore the infant Christ, as angels, magi, shepherds, and maids attend our Lord, and musicians play. Saint Joseph is shown in what for centuries became his characteristic pose. He sits in the corner of the cave, chin in hand, pondering what James calls “Joseph’s Troubles” – the awesome and terrible responsibility of the care and protection of God incarnate as a human child 2.
In Baroque art of the 17th century, more depictions of Saint Joseph alone with his foster Son and apart from the Virgin Mother emerged 2. In Spain during the 1600s, paintings of Saint Joseph holding the Christ Child became common 3. In some paintings, Saint Joseph is shown as an older man while in others he is depicted as a young father holding the Christ Child 34.