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The Christ Child and the Infant John the Baptist with a LambEnlarge image

The Christ Child and the Infant John the Baptist with a Lamb, c. 1507-1532

Bernardino Luini
Italian, 1480 - 1532
oil on wood, transferred to canvas
75.8 x 57.5 cm
Purchased 1927
National Gallery of Canada (no. 3454)

Scenes showing the infants Jesus and John together first became popular in fifteenth-century Tuscany, part of a growing concern for childhood. The subject was given new life in the century to follow thanks to a now lost work by Leonardo, which showed the two children embracing. Luini, inspired by Leonardo's example, chose to show them together with a lamb, symbol of Jesus' sacrifice and death. The naturalism of the scene offsets the weighty meaning - these are not symbols, but two young boys at play.

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