A Family Saying Grace before a Meal

Image credit: Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

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This painting shows a family group seated around a table that is laid for a meal. The family are at prayer, and sit around a long refectory table draped with a damask tablecloth. This painting is an early example of the Christian family portrait, a very frequent theme in the painting of the Low Countries in this period.

It is thought that the family was probably Catholic because the Imperial Habsburg escutcheon is woven into the damask tablecloth. This picture is rich in biblical symbolism, derived from Psalms 1 and 128. In the background to the left of the painting, the view through the open window shows a tree by a river (symbolic of a good family man) and a vine growing against a wall (symbolic of the fertile housewife).

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust



A Family Saying Grace before a Meal




oil on panel


H 96.5 x W 142 cm

Accession number

SBT 1990-49

Acquisition method

purchased, 1990

Work type


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Normally on display at

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 6QW England

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