Created, location: 1888; Vilnius.
Material / technique: oil on canvas.
Dimensions: 163x119 cm.
Signature: La Sainte Vierge de la Ceville / d'après Murillo / Wilna 1888 r. / p. Wincenty Sleńdziński (in the back side of the painting).
The Holy Family is also called the Earthly Trinity. Mary and Joseph were both virgin and formed a family to give the Saviour to the world. The Holy Family has suffered a great deal of hardships, persecution, and fear. The paintings of this subject depict young Jesus led by Mother Mary and guardian Joseph. Jesus is dressed in a light tunic belted with a golden sash indicating that the child is the ruler of the world, who holds power over all creatures. Joseph is bareheaded and Mary’s head is draped with a veil; sometimes they all wear crowns. God the Father, who takes centre stage, embraces them with His arms. A dove which symbolises the Holy Spirit is depicted below God’s arms.
The subject of The Holy Family also includes the paintings of St Ann Herself Making the Third and Holy Relatives. In the painting St Ann Herself Making the Third Jesus is portrayed with His mother, the Blessed Virgin, and His grandmother, St Ann. Ann is holding a stalk with three flowers which symbolises the Holy Trinity or three parts of the Rosary; Infant Jesus is reaching for the flower or is pointing at it. The narrative of the Holy Relatives focuses on Jesus among His relatives, who are not only blood relations, but also followers of the faith of Christ. It comes from the legend that St Ann was married three times and had one daughter called Mary in each of her marriages, who had descendants.
St Joseph, being a carpenter, worked at home or built homes for the people of Egypt. The Holy Mother also earned a living by sewing and knitting. And so they managed well. /.../ So, man, seeing this, here is the sermon: when everything is going well for you, neither be proud nor happy, because soon, when your happiness goes away, you may yet face hardship. And on the contrary: if misfortune befalls you, neither pour yourself nor stop doing good deeds, because the hardships will soon go away and you will do well again. (Motiejus Valančius, „Žyvatas Jėzaus Kristaus Viešpaties mūsų“, Raštai 3, p. 331–333).
Reference: "The Lithuanian art collection of Jaunius Gumbis". Museum and Collector - 6. Vilnius: National Museum of Lithuania, 2016, P. 30.
This work by WINCENTY SLEŃDZIŃSKI is a careful copy of The Virgin of Seville by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1617–1682), a Spanish Baroque painter. Murillo was one of Spain’s most famous painters, whose beautiful religious compositions, subtly combining realism and spirituality, and painted in a soft and skilful way, were highly valued. His religious pictures, and also copies and prints of them, became especially popular with Catholics, while some his compositions, such as St Francis of Assisi Embracing the Crucified Christ (ca 1668), The Vision of St Anthony (1670), and Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (1670 and 1678), were reproduced throughout Europe. They can often be seen on church altars i Lithuania too.
Reference: Art album Heaven and Beyond Compiler Dalia Vasiliunienė, authors Dalia Vasiliunienė and Skaidrė Urbonienė. Vilnius, VALIUNAS ELLEX, 2016. P. 72.
Published: "The Lithuanian art collection of Jaunius Gumbis". Museum and Collector - 6. Vilnius: National Museum of Lithuania, 2016, P. 31; Art album "Heaven and Beyond"; compiler Dalia Vasiliunienė, authors Dalia Vasiliunienė and Skaidrė Urbonienė. Vilnius, VALIUNAS ELLEX, 2016. P. 72, Cat. P. 308 No. 34.