Christ Among the Doctors, by Pinturicchio (Bernardino di Betto), in the Baglioni Chapel of St Mary Major in Spello, Italy; 1501.
And His Mother said to Him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold Thy father and I have sought Thee sorrowing. And He said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the word that He spoke unto them. And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And His Mother kept all these words in Her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men. (Luke 2, 42-52, the Gospel of both the Feast of the Holy Family and the First Sunday after Epiphany in the EF, of the Holy Family in year C in the OF.)
In the same chapel, the painter Bernardino di Betto signed his work by including this portrait of himself. He is often referred to as “Pinturicchio”, which means “tiny little painter”, because he was remarkably short.
He originally trained as a miniaturist and illustrator of devotion manuals, often working on hand-sized pages under magnifying glasses, and using brushes with a single hair to create incredibly fine details. The same level of detail appears in his fresco works; note the elaborately painted trees and tiny buildings in the background of Christ Among the Doctors above, or the string of beads hanging from his signature plate below, to which are attached two paint-brushes and a scalpel.
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