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as a theme in Christian art, representation of the infant Jesus with his immediate family. There are two major versions, one showing the Virgin and Child with St. Joseph and the other showing the Virgin and Child with the Virgin's mother, St. Anne. Like a number of other themes dealing with the lives of Christ and the Virgin, the Holy Family gained importance at the end of the Middle Ages as an inspiration to popular piety through contemplation of the emotional aspects of the Gospel story. It was most frequently depicted in painting and, especially in the Renaissance, was a favourite subject for altarpieces.