The Holy Family on the Steps, ca. 1646
Pen and brown ink, brown wash, with touches of gray wash, over black chalk
7 1/4 x 9 7/8 inches (184 x 251 mm)
Gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924
Between 1646 and 1655, Poussin methodically explored the possible compositions of the Holy Family with St. Elizabeth and John the Baptist in numerous drawings and paintings. This sheet is the second of three studies for his painting of the subject in the Cleveland Museum of Art. The dramatic rendering of light—bright reserves of paper contrasted with dark brown wash—is typical of Poussin’s studies and reflects his concern for volumetric form and overall unity.