Giuseppe Badaracco, St Joseph and Child, oil on canvas, 99.5 x 74.5 cm, circa 1655. Private Collection. (Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0).

In this intimate portrayal, Joseph is seated with the Christ-Child in his lap, who props himself up in a half-standing position. The painting is iconographically interesting because the male figure of Joseph effectively takes the place of the Virgin, whose conventional blue colour has been borrowed for Joseph’s tunic (though not his cloak, which envelops the lower half of the composition with luminous gold). Badaracco depicts him with a grey beard, a sign of maturity and wisdom. Joseph’s elongated fingers barely cup the right food of the Infant while his other fingertips hold his side as though to present him to the viewer or to God as the supreme offering. The Infant holds a cross, the instrument of his Crucifixion, foreshadowing his sacrificial destiny.  As noted by Camillo Manzitti, the picture highlights strong stylistic affinities with the canvas representing the Martyrdom of St Matthew completed by Badaracco for the church of St Matthew in Borghetto Santo Spirito.