This study presents a psychoanalytic examination of Guido Reni's motivations for creating an innovative painting series of St. Joseph and the Christ Child. The seventeenth-century artist developed a new depiction of Joseph as the tender and loving surrogate father of Christ. This new artistic emphasis on the intimate relationship between father and son reveals Reni's own psychological need to create a replacement father. Indeed, contemporary biographers report that Reni suffered from anxiety and an aversion to women throughout his life. These odd behavioral traits appear to have stemmed from Reni's lack of a supportive father figure. Thus, the artist created a symbolic artistic substitute of Joseph, who was himself a replacement figure for God, in order to fill this void in his own life.
College and Department
Fine Arts and Communications; Visual Arts
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Gardner, Alec Teresa, "Joseph as Father in Guido Reni's St. Joseph Images" (2012). Theses and Dissertations. 3169.
Guido Reni, Bologna, Italy, fathers, Joseph, God, Baroque, psychoanalysis