Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, Part II of 3


Laurent de La Hyre, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
French, 1648
Louisville, Speed Art Museum

As we have seen in the previous essay, The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, Part I, by the period around 1500 the subject of the Rest on the Flight into Egypt was well enough established to begin to move beyond strict adherence to its specifically Biblical and apocryphal sources.  



Just Resting

In many works of art, the Holy Family is seen to be simply resting.  They may be seated on the ground, or under a tree, or finding shelter in ruined buildings (the latter carries with it a reference to the end of the old order, which is to be transformed by the Infant Jesus).  






Parmigianino, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Italian, c.1523-1525
London, Courtauld Gallery



As happened in paintings of the Flight into Egypt itself, artists frequently set the Rest on the Flight amid landscape, which sometimes dwarfed the figures of the Holy Family at rest as it had in motion.

Cornelys Massys, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Flemish, c.1540-1545
Madrid, Museo del Prado

Pieter Lastman, Rest on Flight into Egypt
Dutch, c.1600
Berlin, Gemaeldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin

Abraham Bloemaert, Landscape with the Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Dutch, c.1605-1610
Utrecht, Centraal Museum
Jan Brueghel the Elder, Forest Landscape with the Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Flemish, 1607
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum

Peter van der Borcht, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Flemish, c.1618
Brighton_Brighton and Hove Museums and Art Galleries























 
Cornelis van Poelenburch, Rest on Flight into Egypt
Dutch, 1640-1650
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts









Cornelis van Poelenburgh, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Dutch, c.1640
Cambridge (MA), Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University
















Laurent de la Hyre, Rest on Flight into Egypt
French, 1641
Nantes, Musee des Beaux-Arts
Laurent de La Hire, Holy Family in Landscape
with Antique Ruins
French, After 1641
Berlin, Gemaeldegalerie der Staatliche Museen zu Berlin



























Claude Lorrain, Landscape with the Rest on Flight into Egypt
French, 1647
Dresden, Gemaeldegalerie

Rembrandt, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Dutch, 1647
Dublin, National Gallery of Ireland

Bernard Fuckerad, Rest on Flight into Egypt
German, before 1662
Cologne, Church of the Assumption












Bartolome Esteban Murillo, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Spanish, c.1665
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum

Giambattista Pittoni, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Italian, 1725-1726
Pedralbes, Fundacion Coleccion Thyssen-Bornemisza

Paul Delaroche, Rest on the Flight
into Egypt
French, 1844
London, Wallace Collection






















Resting Activities

As part of this more independent strain of interpretation other symbols, activities and attributes began to be added to engage the Holy Family.   Among them are:

Feeding the Baby – The earliest of these images show a quiet scene in which Mary feeds Jesus, while Joseph rests or tends to the donkey.
Gerard David, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Flemish, c. 1500
Antwerp, Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten

Gerard David, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Flemish, c.1500
Oslo, Nasjonalmuseet

























Orazio Gentileschi, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Italisn, 1622-1628
Vienna_Kunstshistorisches Museum
Noel Halle, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
French, 1755-1760
Private Collection

Jacob More, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Scottish, c.1780
Private Collection

Reading -  This activity, a sign of a certain amount of available leisure and therefore conveying the idea of rest, is primarily engaged in by Saint Joseph, occasionally by Mary and also occasionally by Jesus.   It is also a reference to the Old Testament writings which predicted or prefigured the coming of the Messiah. 

Andrea del Sarto, Madonna del Sacco
Italian, 1525
Florence, Church of Santissima Annunziata
Francesco Albani, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Italian, c.1610
Private Collection

Giovanni Francesco Romanelli, Rest on the Flight
into Egypt
Italian, 17th Century
Nantes, Musee des Beaux-Arts

























Pierre Puget, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
French, 1662-1663
Private Collection


Aert de Gelder, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Dutch, c. 1690
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts
























Listening to Music – What is perhaps the most famous image of the Rest on the Flight into Egypt is that painted by Caravaggio around 1596.  
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Italian, 1596-1597
Rome, Galleria Doria Pamphilii
In this picture we see Mary cuddling the sleeping Child to the right while Joseph, seated at the left, holds music for the angel who stands at the center of the painting, his back to us, as he plays a viol or violin.   

Other pictures show angelic orchestras serenading the Child and His Mother. 

Arcangelo Salimbeni, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Italian, 1571-1572
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum
Carlo Saraceni, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Italian, 1606
Frascati, Eremo dei Camaldolesi


Playing – Occasionally, some artists depicted the Christ Child as playing with angels or with butterflies or birds.  Butterflies are usually considered to refer to the Resurrection, since they emerge for the cocoons of their larval stage through a process that resembles death and resurrection.  Birds often refer to the souls of the Blessed, freed from their earthbound existence.1

Albrecht Altdorfer, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
German, 1510
Berlin, Gemaeldegalerie der Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Parmigianino, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Italian, 1524
Madrid, Museo del Prado





















Maerten van Heemskerck, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Dutch, c.1530
Washington (DC), National Gallery of Art
Anthony van Dyck, Rest on the Flight into Egypt, known as the Madonna with the Partridges
Flemish, 1630-1632
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum
Antoine Watteau, The Holy Family (Rest on the Flight into Egypt)
French, 1719
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum


Lambs – The infant Saint John the Baptist is often shown in proximity to a lamb, which is one of his attributes, based on his adult declaration that the adult Jesus is the “lamb of God”.  However, in a few cases lambs also appear in images of the Rest when John is not there.  
Anonymous, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Flemish, c.1620
Enniskillen (NI), Castle Coole, National Trust

Angelo Caroselli, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Italian, 1630-1645
Rome, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica






















Whenever they do appear, however, they are references to the same idea, that Jesus is the sacrificial, pure Lamb of God.


Arriving in Egypt

A few images show the Holy Family arriving in Egypt and surrounded with elements of Egyptian civilization, as it was known at the time in which that particular work was painted.  Thus the earliest images in this group are quite fanciful and imagine Egypt as being similar to contemporary Europe. One can see, through these paintings, the growing level of awareness of Egyptian civilization and art. Thus the images made in the later years of the nineteenth century are archaeological in character, reflecting the greatly increased knowledge of Egyptian civilization.  
The Holy Family Arrives in Egypt with the Fall of the
Egyptian Idols
from the Salzburger Missal
German (Regensburg), 15th Century
Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
MS BSB Clm 15708, fol. 90v

Nicolas Poussin, The Holy Family in Egypt
French, 1655-1657
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum

Jan Frans van Bloemen, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Flemish, c.1690
Private Collection

Jan van Huysum, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Dutch, c.1700-1749
Peterborough (UK), Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery
Luc Olivier Merson, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
French, 1879
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts
Edwin Long, Anno Domini, The Arrival of the Holy Family in Egypt
English, 1883
Bournemouth (UK), Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

James Tissot, The Sojourn in Egypt
French, 1886-1894
New York, Brooklyn Museum

Glyn Warren Philpot, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
English, 1922
London, Tate Britain


































The very latest of this kind of image that I could find, from the 1920s, reflects early twentieth-century artistic movements and is a return to a kind of symbolic world view. As the Holy Family lie asleep on the ground beside a fallen statue, they are observed, not by angels, but by mythical creatures from Roman and Egyptian religions. There are centaurs, a faun and a dark and ominous sphinx.




To Be Continued....

© M. Duffy, 2017
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  1. See:  George Ferguson, Signs and Symbols in Christian Art, New York, Oxford University Press, 1961, which is still the standard work on this subject.


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