The Holy Family with the Virgin teaching the Child to Read

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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The Virgin Mary holds her infant son on her knee, supporting him as he uses his finger to help him follow the words in an open book. The Child traces the line of text with one hand, while the other rests tenderly on his mother’s thumb. Saint Joseph gently supports the book in this charmingly intimate depiction of the holy family. This is one of the finest of numerous small pictures of this subject which Schedoni painted in the last years of his life. The close-knit composition, bathed in a soft golden light, creates a powerful sense of domesticity and warmth, while the nearness of the figures to the picture plane connects us closely with them. According to an inscription on the back of the panel, this picture belonged to Schedoni’s wife Barbara, whom he married in 1611.

The National Gallery, London



The Holy Family with the Virgin teaching the Child to Read


about 1613-15


Oil on wood


H 33.6 x W 28.2 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Presented by the Trustees of Sir Denis Mahon's Charitable Trust through the Art Fund, 2013

Work type



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