© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

The Flemish master Philippe de Champaigne pursued a successful career in France, where he produced altarpieces, devotional images, and portraits, served as first painter to the queen, and was a founding member of the French Academy. The emotional restraint typical of the French classical tradition informs Champaigne’s two devotional pictures: The Virgin Mary, at right (1978.546), and Saint Joseph, at left (1978.545). Both are isolated against a softly lit landscape. Champaigne highlights Joseph’s divinity by replacing his carpentry tools, cast on the ground to his right, with a white lily, denoting the purity of Christ’s conception. Draped in a robe and veil of the same rich palette as her husband’s attire, the Virgin reads a book, which underscores her fidelity to scripture. Forming halos around their heads, the light shining through the clouds behind them reinforces their sacred status. The copper support, which concentrates and clarifies the colors, heightens this effect.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
1978.545
People
Philippe de Champaigne, French (Brussels 1602 - 1674 Paris)
Title
Saint Joseph
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
painting
Date
c. 1650
Culture
French
Location
Level 2, Room 2400, European Art, 17th century, Rome and Its Influence in the Seventeenth Century
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Oil on copper
Dimensions
62.6 x 37.5 cm (24 5/8 x 14 3/4 in.)
framed: 84.5 x 59.5 cm (33 1/4 x 23 7/16 in.)
Provenance
Anonymous sale, Paris (March 14-15, 1836). Private Collection, France. [Wildenstein & Co, Inc., New York, NY, sold]; to Fogg Art Museum, 1978.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Colonel C. Michael Paul Fund
Accession Year
1978
Object Number
1978.545
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.
Publication History

Pierre Rosenberg, France in the Golden Age: Seventeenth-Century French Paintings in American Collections, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY, 1982), p. 348, fig. 10

Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 102, fig. no. 219

Bernard Dorival, Supplément au catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre de Philippe de Champaigne, Léonce Laget (Paris, 1992), p. 62, fig. 47

Lorenzo Pericolo, Philippe de Champaigne, La Renaissance du Livre (Tournai, 2002), pp. 257-258, repr.

Exhibition History

32Q: 2400 French/Italian/Spanish, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu