Saturday, January 28, 2017

Winter 2017 Art Offerings in Manhattan

The excitement of the Christmas/Holiday period if now behind us and many of the most spectacular shows presented by our Manhattan museums have closed, but there is always something to see.  So, unless the weather is truly frightful (which so far it hasn’t been), button up your coat and come see what around.  A few haven’t opened yet, but soon will, so check the museum websites before you leave the house so you won’t be disappointed.

I will start the list with the biggest of Manhattan’s museums, the METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART or, as its rebranding campaign suggests, THE MET.  Recently expanded through the opening of the former site of the Whitney Museum, renamed the Breuer Building, The Met is of course, in itself, a feast of offerings. 

At the main building, now known as THE MET FIFTH AVENUE (Fifth Avenue and West 82nd Street), there will be some major exhibitions, plus a host of smaller ones (some of which are already open) to tempt interested visitors.  The major shows are:

Max Beckmann in New York continues until February 20th.  Planned as a commemoration of the Expressionist artist’s sudden death on a New York street corner in 1950 at age 66 (1950+66=2016), the show will bring together works made by Beckmann in the last year of his life, when he was resident in the city, with earlier works held in New York collections.  So, it gives a pretty good overview of Beckmann’s entire body of work. 

On February 13th, a major exhibition of the work of the somewhat mysterious Hercules Seghers opens.  Organized by the Rijksmuseum and the Met it promises to give us a real look into one of the most original artists of the late sixteenth/early seventeenth century period.  At my Ph.D. orals one of my examining professors suggested that he used sugar to texture his work.  Interesting.  The exhibition will run until May 21th





Also opening in February will be Seurat’s Circus Side Show, which will situate one of the paintings from the permanent collection in its time and examine its influence on later artists.  It opens February 17th and closes May 29th



Among the smaller exhibitions at THE MET FIFTH AVENUE are:






Velazquez Portraits, which is currently open and closes on March 12th.  It’s a lovely small show of the portraits of Velazquez, including two works on loan from the infrequently visited Hispanic Society in upper Manhattan.  They are well worth seeing. 




European Paintings: Recent Acquisitions 2015-2016.  This is currently open and runs through March 26th.  Many of the works in the group are religious in nature and all are absolutely beautiful. 






Simple Gifts: Shaker at The Met, ongoing until June 25th.  This lovely small exhibition shows off holdings from the museum’s collection of American furniture and decorative objects.  The simple, dignified work of the Shakers speaks to a vision of American life, simple, earnest, purposeful, that still resonates today and touches our modern design sense as well.  One nice extra in this show is a showing of the full length video of Martha Graham’s dance setting of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, filmed in 1958 in the early days of Public Television and featuring Ms. Graham herself. 


Following up on its recent opening of new rooms from the Gilded Age period of American design, The Met is offering a survey of the decorative works of the era, called The Aesthetic Movement in America, which is ongoing until June 25th.  Mostly from The Met’s own holdings, the exhibition surveys the amazing decorative items produced during the late years of the nineteenth century when, under influence from the English Aesthetic Movement, American designers created works of great luxury and beauty.



Finally, The Met continues to present its small, but important show, Collecting the Arts of Mexico, which runs until September 4th.  Tucked away in the second floor American paintings galleries (third level of the American Wing) it represents The Met’s new commitment to inclusion of some previously uncollected art, the art of New Spain and colonial Latin America.  Ranging from ironwork to pottery, it also includes a few important and interesting paintings. And, while you are there, don’t forget to visit the beautiful “Crown of the Andes”, an emerald laden solid gold crown for the Madonna from 17th century Colombia.  It can be found amid the pre-Columbian gold of the first floor galleries for the Art of Africa, the Americas and Oceania. 



The new THE MET BREUER (Madison Avenue and East 75th Street) is also hosting a range of important exhibitions during this, including:

Marisa Merz: The Sky is a Great Space, which has just opened is the first major retrospective in the United States of works by Italian painter, sculptor, and installation artist Marisa Merz (born 1926), the sole female protagonist of the Arte Povera movement.  It will run until May 7th.









Finally, the MET CLOISTERS (in Fort Tryon Park at the top of Manhattan Island), the Met’s specialized medieval museum will offer Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures, which opens February 22nd and will run till May 21st.  It will focus on 50 of the tiny and amazing miniature sculptures carved in the early 16th century Netherlands, objects like rosary beads that open to display entire scenes perfectly executed and incredibly small.


Beyond THE MET the museums of New York also have many things to offer. 





Leading the way is the MORGAN LIBRARY (at Madison Avenue between East 36th and 37th Streets) with Treasures from the Nationalmuseum of Sweden: The Collections of Count Tessin, opening on February 3rd and closing on May 14th.  It will include work by Albrecht Dürer, Raphael, Rubens, Rembrandt, Antoine Watteau, and François Boucher.








The FRICK COLLECTION (Fifth Avenue at East 70th Street) will be hosting Turner’s Modern and Ancient Ports: Passages through Time which will run from February 23rd to May 14th.  I’m sure it will be interesting to look at how his expression of the port changed over time. 




The MUSEUM OF MODERN ART (53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues), not a frequent venue on these pages, has a slew of exhibitions, as it usually does.  Two current exhibitions look interesting, however.  They are:


Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round So Our Thoughts Can Change Direction, open until March 19th examines the work of one of the most important artists of the first half of the 20th century.




Meanwhile A Revolutionary Impulse: The Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde looks at the period from 1912 to the 1920s, when Russian artists explored the new artistic ideas circulating through Europe before being superseded by Socialist Realism, which dominated the country thereafter. 







And, last, but by no means least, the NEUE GALERIE (Fifth Avenue at East 86th Street) presents the first American retrospective of the painter Alexei Jawlensky, a Russian-born Expressionist painter who worked in Germany.   I saw a few works of his in the Neue’s amazing exhibition of what the Nazis termed “Degenerate Art” a couple of years ago and was very struck by their spiritual content.  So this is something that I am looking forward to.  The exhibition opens on February 16th and will close on May 29th

So, if a brisk walk in cold weather isn’t really your cup of tea, you can easily find something to suit in museums.  And maybe have a cup of something hot while you’re at it.

Which reminds me that many New York museums have restaurants and cafes within their walls.  These include the Morgan (which has two), The Met Fifth Avenue (which has three public and two members only restaurants, plus a cocktail bar on weekend evenings), The Met Breuer (which has two), the Museum of Modern Art (which has several tucked away on different floors) and several others.  There are also some reasonably priced places to eat within a block or two of those mentioned above as well as near the Frick, which at the moment does not have a restaurant.  There is really no need to run the risk of eating from a street food cart, especially when the weather is frigid. 

I’m sometimes asked where to eat outside the museum (and even near some of the mid-town attractions) and here’s my answer, at least for the areas around the museums mentioned here.

Near the Neue Galerie and the Met (86th Street – 84th Streets).  This is an expensive, residential area, but there are a few possibilities outside the museums. 
Demarchelier – 86th Street and Madison Avenue.  Classic French and pricier than most, but well worth the splurge if you can afford it.

Dean and Deluca – 85th Street and Madison Avenue.  Not a restaurant as such, but you can get sandwiches and salads and drinks and perch on a few stools in the window.

The New Amity Coffee Shop – 84th Street and Madison Avenue, west side of the Avenue.  This is a classic New York Greek diner.  It has had the same décor for at least the last 40 years, but the food is good, the staff is friendly (except at lunch time, when no staff anywhere is friendly) and the prices are pretty good as well.

Le Pain Quotidien – 84th Street and Madison Avenue, east side of Madison.  A branch of the well-known chain featuring some communal tables.  A bit on the pricey side for sandwiches, but usually very good.

Near the Met (82nd to 79th Streets)
Lexington Candy Shop – 83rd Street and Lexington Avenue.  This requires walking a couple of extra blocks, and is definitely a step back in time.  It’s a genuine lunch counter/ice cream parlor from the 1940s.  Presumably the stoves, etc. have been replaced over time and there was the “renovation” in the late 1980s when the pay telephone booth was removed to make way for two more tables, but that’s about it.  It’s been run by the same family since the 1920s.  Space is tight and it’s usually very busy.   The food echoes the décor and prices aren’t dirt cheap, but it’s worth the trip for the experience and to help it survive.

EAT – Madison Avenue between 80th and 81st Street.  This is one of the offshoots of the Zabar family’s empire.  There is a pricier restaurant here, but there is also a take-out division, with prepared sandwiches, etc. and a convenient bench outside the door if it’s decent weather, especially if you are drinking something hot.

Serafina Fabulous Pizza – Madison Avenue and 79th Street (upstairs).  One of a chain of mid-priced Italian eateries.  Offers pizza, pasta and entrees at moderate (but not cheap) prices.  The only drawback for this particular Serafina is that it is on the second floor. 

I can’t recommend anything else in the stretch between 84th and 79th.

Near the Met Breuer (79th to 72nd Street).  This area used to be plentifully supplied with restaurants and bakeries at all price ranges.  However, the rents have risen so high in the last decades that, one by one, they have mostly closed.  What is left is one Greek coffee shop, one moderate to expensive Italian restaurant, one moderate Italian themed café and several expensive restaurants, confined primarily to the side streets, where the rent is a little less.  What’s left are:

Sant Ambroeus -- Madison Avenue between 77th and 78th Street.  This is the oldest of the New York offshoots of the classic Milanese restaurant of the same name.  If you are coming here for lunch or dinner, it's expensive.  However, at the front of the restaurant is a bar area where you can have lighter fare, like panini or focaccia, and pastries at reasonable prices.  Do not miss the gelato, which is the REAL thing.  

Three Guys – Madison Avenue between 75th and 76th Street, one-half block from the Breuer.  A large and more elegant version of the classic New York Greek diner.  The menu is extensive, the prices are a bit higher than usual for this type of restaurant and the crowds at lunchtime and on weekends are appalling, but it’s generally worth it. 

Via Quadronno – 73rd Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues.  This is a tiny North Italian eatery.  It’s incredibly crowded at lunchtime and expensive for dinner.  However, the all-day panini/salad/pastry menu is reasonable and there are some bargains.  For example, instead of a cup of American coffee for $5, you get a pot, containing about 3 cups.

Near the Frick Museum (72nd Street to 68th Street).  What little exists in the immediate vicinity is expensive.  So, to find more reasonably priced food you may need to head to Lexington Avenue, three blocks away.  Clustered around 70th Street and Lexington are several options, including a French restaurant, an Italian restaurant, a deli and a pizza joint.  Two good lower priced options are:

Neal’s Coffee Shop (70th Street and Lexington Avenue, east side of Lexington).  This is another Greek diner that hasn’t changed much since the 1970s, except for the addition of a back room with more seats.  Usually very crowded through lunch. 

Diagonally across the street, is Corrado Café (70th Street and Lexington Avenue, west side of Lexington).  Corrado is tiny, with limited seating inside and some seating outside which is useful in good weather.  Premade sandwiches and salads are reasonable and usually very good.  Also sells pastries and bread to take home.  Well worth the walk from Fifth.

Laduree – (Madison Avenue between 70th and 71st Street).  This is the New York outpost of the famous Parisian patisserie, so it’s not exactly a restaurant, since it sells only confections and only has two tables.  It usually has a line, waiting to buy some of the incredible macarons.  I love the rose macarons, which taste just like eating a rose petal, only better.  Not cheap, but a macaron or two probably won't break your piggy bank.

Near the Museum of Modern Art (53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth).  This is in midtown.  There are lots of opportunities to find something within a moderate budget.  Going west, Sixth and Seventh Avenues are loaded with all manner of dining options.  Moving east the options, while still there, are more limited.  I can recommend two restaurants within one block of the Modern on the east side of Fifth Avenue.  They are:

Le Pain Quotidien (53rd Street between Fifth and Madison).  Another branch of the reliable chain.

Burger Heaven (53rd Street between Fifth and Madison).  One of a chain of modern coffee shops that offers what is probably the best hamburger in Manhattan, way better than the greasy offerings of the various Shake Shacks. 

Near the Morgan Library (34th to 40th Streets).  The Morgan is also in a midtown area, with a variety of dining options.  My personal favorites are:

Moonstruck Coffee Shop – Madison at 38th Street.  This is a large, modern styled Greek diner with typical Greek diner food and spectacular bathrooms that are worth stopping here for.

Two branches of the popular sandwich and salad chain, Pret a Manger.  These are reasonably priced, good but very busy.   There are two within a very short walk from the Morgan.  The nearest is at Fifth Avenue and 37th Street, the other is at Madison Avenue and 39th Street.  The 39th Street Pret is quite large and not quite as crowded as it lies on a border between residential and commercial real estate.

Near the Cloisters (Fort Tryon Park, northern Manhattan)
Alas, the nearest thing to the Met Cloisters is the lovely New Leaf Café within Fort Tryon Park.  However, while the food can be spectacular it is pricey and almost always requires a reservation, especially on weekends.  The Cloisters does have a small eating place in the Trie cloister building, but only in warm weather.  Right now you’re out of luck. 

© M. Duffy, 2017


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

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

Henri Mauperche, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
French, 1671
Paris, Musee du Louvre
In my two previous essays on the Rest on the Flight into Egypt, Parts I and II, we looked at most of the ways in which artists chose to depict the subject over the centuries.  One category of works remains, however, which is a little different from them.  Many of the works reviewed in the first two articles could, except for the presence in many of them of angelic guides, or messengers, or helpers, be simply pictures of a little family of three reposing during a long journey.  To be sure, some had references to the Biblical story or a great deal of religious symbolism worked in.  However, without knowing what to look for such references and symbolism could easily be overlooked.  But there is one final category in which it would be impossible to misunderstand the nature of the family depicted.






Adoration of the Christ Child

The final category that I found in my searches is the subject of the adoration of the Christ Child.  In these images it is most frequently angels who bow down before the Child in postures of adoration.  However, Mary and Joseph also perform the same actions.  It is somewhat similar to the adoration of the newborn Jesus, but it clearly occurs on the road to Egypt. 

Fra Bartolomeo, The Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Italian, c.1500
Pienza, Palazzo Vescovile
Pieter Coecke van Aelst, The Rest on Flight
into Egypt
Flemish, c.1530-1540
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum


























Annibale Carracci, The Rest on Flight into Egypt
Italian, c.1604
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum

Guido Reni, St. Joseph Adoring the Infant Jesus
Italian, 1620s
St. Petersburg, State Hermitage Museum
Clearly this is set on the Flight.  In the right 
background Mary can be seen seated and 
attended by an angel.
Giovanni Battista Gaulli, The Virgin Mary
Adoring the Infant Jesus
Italian, 1700
Cardiff, National Museum of Wales
Also set on the Flight.  Joseph can be seen in
the right background tending to the donkey.




























Sebastiano Ricci, Holy Family with Angels, Rest on the
Flight into Egypt
Italian, c.1700
New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Italian, 1752-1753
Budapest, Szépmûvészeti Múzeum


















Franz Ittenbach, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
German, 1868
Berlin, Nationalgalerie der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin



Philipp Otto Runge, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
German, 1805-1806
Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle




Four of these images stand out particularly.  All come from the century between the latter part of the seventeenth century and the late eighteenth century and are all the work of Italian painters. 

Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari, Rest on Flight into Egypt
with Instruments of the Passion
Italian, c.1675
Derbyshire (UK), Calke Abbey, National Trust


The earliest, by Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari, looks quite similar to some of the scenes in which angels offer fruit or flowers to the Child.  A kneeling angel offers a basket laden with objects to the Child Jesus, who is seated on Mary’s lap.  He has already removed two objects from the basket.  One is a small wooden cross, which He holds in His right hand.  The other is a nail, which He holds in His left.  

Looking carefully at the basket one can make out some of the other objects.  There are more nails, a whip and something spikey.  What the angel offers is not fruit or flowers, but the instruments of the Passion.  It is a rather shocking reminder of what the adult life of this Baby refugee would entail.  And the eager acceptance by the Child of the cross and nail foreshadow the obedient acceptance of His suffering by the adult Jesus.




Martino Altomonte, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Austrian, 1737
Ljubljana, Narodna gelerija Slovenije




The next picture is by Martino Altomonte and depicts angels adoring the Holy Family, who are positioned on the steps of a classical building.  One of the pyramids can be seen in the background.  Jesus, shown as a little boy rather than a baby, stands in front of the protective arms of Saint Joseph, while Mary sits on a slightly lower step.  

Above them, in the sky, is a glory of clouds and angels surrounding God the Father who leans upon the globe of the world and points downward to where the dove of the Holy Spirit hovers above the earthly scene.  

This is an incorporation of the iconographic type called The Two Trinities, of which the central figure is Jesus, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity and the cause of the earthly Holy Family.  It also stresses St. Joseph's role in the earthly family as the human stand in for the Heavenly Father.




Pompeo Batoni, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Italian, c.1740-1749
Dundee, Dundee Art Galleries and Museums Collection (Dundee City Council)




The third picture is by Pompeo Batoni.  It shows the sleeping Mother and Child, seated on a portion of a ruined building.  Jesus holds a small cross in His hand.  He is cradled by Mary, who is also asleep, watched over by Saint Joseph.  At the right of the picture are two angels, one with hands crossed in adoration, the other swinging a thurible and incensing the sleeping Mother and Child, just as the consecrated Host is incensed during Mass. 


Corrado Giaquinto. Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Italian, 1764-1765
Detroit, Institute of Arts












The final picture makes the connection with the Eucharist even clearer.  This is a picture by Corrado Giaquinto, painted in 1764 as part of a series of scenes from the life of Mary for the sacristy at the church of the Franciscan Minims of San Luigi di Palazzo, the royal monastery in Naples, and now in the Detroit Institute of Art.1




Unfortunately, the only color photo I could find of this image was stamped with a college library stamp.  A slightly different variation, probably a preparatory sketch, is in a private collection and can give a less obstructed view of the main scene.  
Corrado Giaquinto, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Italian, ca. 1764
Private Collection









At the center of the picture Mary holds the Child (a toddler in this instance) to support Him as He stands on a slab which bears a resemblance to an altar in a church.  With her right hand she gestures to Him with the same gesture used in the Hodegetria type of image for the Mary as Mother of God, "She who shows the Way".2

Behind Him angels hold up a fringed white cloth of state that itself bears a resemblance to an altar covering. The cloth cuts off our view of the background and focuses our attention on the figure of the Child. An indication of a radiance, emanating from Him, is suggestive of a sunburst monstrance, a type of receptacle in which the consecrated Host is displayed to the faithful for Eucharistic Adoration. Angels kneel at the left side of the painting, their gaze fixed on the Holy Child. One of them holds a thurible, ready to incense the Child, just as the Host in the monstrance is incensed during Adoration. Saint Joseph kneels in adoration at the right side of the painting. The reference to Eucharistic Adoration could hardly be clearer.3


Thus we can see that it is with good reason that so many images of the Rest on the Flight into Egypt were produced over the centuries, as the image can carry so many diverse meanings.

Nicholas Mynheer, Rest on the Flight into Egypt
English, 2003
Oxford (UK), Brookes University


© M. Duffy, 2017
________________________________
  1. See Irene Cioffi, “Corrado Giaquinto's ‘Rest on the Flight into Egypt’", Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts, Vol. 58, No. 1 (1980), pp. 4-13.
  2.  See: http://imaginemdei.blogspot.com/2017/01/mary-mother-of-god.html
  3. See:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucharistic_adoration  and https://www.osv.com/OSVNewsweekly/ByIssue/Article/TabId/735/ArtMID/13636/ArticleID/15518/Eucharistic-adoration-A-treasure-of-the-Faith.aspx

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.