'The Holy Family with St Sebastian, St Catherine and a Donor', after Sebastiano del PiomboArtist:
, British, 1852 - 1917
Sebastiano del Piombo
, Italian, 1485 - 1547
Artist: originally attributed to
Giorgione da Castelfranco
, Italian, 1477 - 1510
Material and Medium: watercolour and bodycolour on paper
Dimensions: Mount: 297 x 418mm
Support: 192 x 263mm
Accession Number: CGSG00194
Paintings showing the Holy Family with figures from different places are called 'Sacra Conversazione' or 'Holy Conversations'. Together the figures tell a story. Here, St Catherine of Alexandria is a Patron Saint of Venice, and St Sebastian was traditionally seen as the protector against plague. The figure in black is a ‘donor figure’, a portrait of the person who ordered the painting. He is Venetian and as Venice was the centre of a successful trading empire would have been very susceptible to plague. It is therefore likely that the donor had the original work painted to protect himself against plague or in thanksgiving for having escaped it.
Randal painted this copy for Ruskin who was very pleased, saying 'it cannot be better done in watercolour, nor I believe, much in oil.' Ruskin had called the original painting 'A most beautiful Giorgione’, because it was originally thought to have been by Giorgione, one of the foremost Venetian artists of the early 1500s.