The Rest on the Flight

The Rest on the flight into Egypt is a very popular theme, more popular than depictions of the journey itself. It is fairly clear why this is so; it is an opportunity to paint the popular devotional image of the Holy Family in an attractive landscape setting. These images often have a narrative element: in this version by Gerard David, Joseph is busy in the background beating the branches of a tree - see here for more on this. 

   Not all artists thought that simplicity would do, and many other elements have been included. Angels were popular, sometimes swarms of them, as in this version by Lucas Cranach, (left) or in this extremely kitsch version by Adriaen van Nieulandt  entitled 'Flight with putti bearing fruit and disporting'. Not much devotion here.

Lucas Cranach
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Private collection (I think).

   Two  different approaches - Rembrandt and Elsheimer show the family at night, while Bloemart sets the scene indoors.

National Gallery of Ireland

Adam Elsheimer
Alte Pinakothek, Munich


Abraham Bloemart
Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

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