The Christ Child and the Young St John
(Weilheim, Bavaria, ca. 1601/2 - Augsburg, 1633)
Text about Christ's childhood in the Bible is very scant, so scenes from it are rare, but a favourite Renaissance subject was to show Christ and St John the Baptist at the Virgin's knee. The Mimara ivory shows them as naked boys holding a cross. Their bodies are realistically portrayed and they seem to be holding the heavy cross, which forms the central axis of the composition, with ease. A foreboding of tragedy to come is given in the serious expressions of the two childish faces and enhanced by the dramatic interplay of light and shade.