Raphael is a great Italian Renaissance painter, and the Holy Family is one of his early, filigree and subtle works, which is also called the Madonna with a Beardless Joseph.
Usually, Joseph was portrayed with a beard, thus emphasizing his age. Rafael refused this rule, and in his picture Joseph looks old due to less obvious and therefore more interesting signs of age. His hair is slightly curly and looks like dandelion fluff, his hands are folded on an old man's stick. Deep wrinkles lie at the mouth, shoulders are lowered, as if they bear the whole burden of hard life.
Maria and the baby sharply contrast with him - they look young, almost shining in this youth. Maria is simply dressed, her hair is tucked under a scarf. The baby in her arms is holding on to her, dodging as only very young children, who are comfortable in almost any position, can dodge.
All together, three figures form a kind of triangle - if someone is taken out of it, and it falls.
Earthly, family happiness can be seen in them, instead of the familiar holiness and longing for icons. They look at each other, seem like an ordinary family. Mary looks at Joseph with a touch of calm sadness, the baby looks at him as if silently asking about something, while Joseph looks at them as if yearning for that simple, earthly thing that he will never have.
It may be honorable to be the father of an incarnate God, but only to be the father of your own son is much easier and much more happiness can be obtained from this.
The picture is dominated by soft, muted colors, flowing smoothly and slowly. There are no sharp lines, bright spots, flashy features. Everything is smooth, starting from poses, lines in faces, and ending with repeating motifs of a semicircle and an arch.
The nimbuses above the heads are barely outlined, and this is understandable - Raphael portrayed not just saints, but sought a man in holiness.
Shishkin Among the Valley of Rivne