The ceremony of circumcision tells of a ritual event taking place in the life of any Jewish boy. There we see a priest holding the adorable little Jesus kneeling on his knees and looking at us inquiringly, waiting for the knife to touch. The person making circumcision wears bright yellow clothes, and Mary, who does not participate in the ritual, looks at the kid with compassion, the more agitated St. Joseph presses his hand to the heart.
Barocci is emotional, but the level of work is so high that these emotions did not make the picture too sugary. The emotional tension of the painting is also due to the brilliant color scheme. A shepherd with a lamb – a symbol of sacrifice – watches as the doctor presses a piece of tissue to the child’s penis. The shepherd’s intense attention contrasts with the indifference of the boy, who points to the speck of blood and the bowl where the severed foreskin floats. Although many people take part in the action, the picture gives rise to a sense of free space and silence.
Light and bright colors emphasize the importance of surgery and, perhaps, the inevitable pain that it brings. The line that passes from Joseph to Mary and then from the doctor to Christ and the priest, wraps up to the angels and again returns down, closing into a ring.
Another ring is formed at the bottom, connecting a wonderful still life, the figures of the surgeon and the child, and also the sacrificial lamb. Both rings intersect in the center, on the figure of the baby, and inevitably attract our view there.