Rafael is one of the most famous Renaissance artists. In his works (he always preferred mythological or religious subjects) ancient stories acquired blood and flesh. Always delightfully bodily and tangible, they did not represent a concentrated holiness of icons, but a peculiar reminder that Christ was not only God, but also a man, and his earthly mother and father were always people.
The Holy Family continues this tradition. It depicts a family scene that could take place in any earthly family. Warm summer day, baby Christ plays with the lamb, riding him. His mother helps him to stay so that he does not slip and do not hurt himself. Joseph, leaning on a staff, watches them, ready, if anything, to come to the rescue. Normal children's game.
Maria has blue and red clothes, her hair is covered with a white scarf. Joseph is dressed in blue and yellow, he is gray-haired and his face is wrinkled. The staff in his hands is just a polished stick. The lamb silently endures the baby who has saddled him, and the boy himself looks inquiringly at his mother. Inquiringly and a little displeased. He looks like he doesn’t like that they interfered in his game, and he is ready to cry so that the adults will definitely understand what he is against.
On the horizon you can see a castle, a church with a blue spire, and all nature around breathes the gentle warmth, while not striking. Yes, there is a blue, slightly faded, sky. There is a tree and earth. But they are just the backdrop to the main characters.
However, if you look a little deeper, it becomes clear that the picture has a second meaning, which is slightly more complicated than the game. The lamb is a symbol of the future sacrifice of Christ, and if you know about it, an inexorable future is approaching the viewer. A simple sketch becomes the forerunner of the path to Calvary and suffering.
No matter how earthly and understandable what is happening, it will not be possible to get rid of the ghost of the future in it.