This picture was exhibited with words from the Old Testament, often seen as prefiguring Christ’s Crucifixion:
And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then shall he answer. Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.
Millais based the setting on a real carpenter’s shop in Oxford Street. Symbols of the Crucifixion figure prominently: the wood, the nails, the cut in Christ’s hand and the blood on his foot. Millais was viciously attacked by the press for showing the holy family as ‘ordinary’. Charles Dickens described Christ as ‘a hideous, wry-necked, blubbering, red-haired boy in a night-gown.’