Artwork of the Week 2020: January 19
John Rogers Herbert R.A. (1810-1890), Our Saviour Subject to His Parents at Nazareth, 1860, oil on canvas, 40 3/16 x 62 1/2 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Jack R. and Mary Lois Wheatley, 2003.
References to Jesus as the “carpenter’s son” (Matthew 13:55) inspired this painting by the nineteenth-century artist John Rogers Herbert, born this week in 1810. Using precise details, the artist presents a tableau of the youthful Christ working alongside His parents at their humble Nazareth home. The painting exudes a brand of realism in the unadorned, everyday attitudes of the Holy Family. Symbolic references to other events in Christ’s life are woven throughout the scene. Jesus holds a flat winnowing basket suggesting the sifting of wheat from the chaff. Mary gazes pensively at her son as He looks at the cross formed by the wood scraps foreshadowing His Crucifixion—suggesting her foreknowledge of His death.