The Holy Family
Oil on canvas (edges relined). 100 x 73 cm.
Signed lower left: G. Schalcken.
Just a single candle and the pale light of the moon illuminate this scene of the Holy Family at prayer. To the left of the image we can recognise the figures of Elisabeth and her son John the Baptist, but on the right, the figure of Zacharias is almost entirely obscured by darkness. The composition of the work is highly reminiscent of Godfried Schalken's “The Holy Family with the Young Saint John and Elisabeth”, painted slightly before 1700 and kept in the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen.
The present work could possibly be the canvas by this artist mentioned in the 1889 inventory of the collection of Baron Speck von Sternburg in Lützschena as “Holy Family, canvas, 100 x 74 cm". The work was listed in Behermann's publication of 1988 (op. cit.) among the lost works of Schalcken, and its whereabouts have remained unknown to this day.
Anja Sevcik, curator of the 2015 exhibition on Schalken at the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum in Cologne, includes the present work in her 2016 resume (op. cit.) among the newly discovered works.
Purchased on the art market in Würzburg in 1975, henceforth in German private ownership.
For the Copenhagen work, cf. the recent exhib. cat.: Schalcken. Gemalte Verführung, Stuttgart 2015 (exhib. in the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum - Fondation Corboud, Cologne), p. 280-281, cat. no. 73, illus. - For the missing painting from the Sternburg collection cf. ibid. (footnote 6-7) and Thierry Beherman: Godfried Schalcken, Paris 1988, p. 388, no.18.