The Rest on the Flight into Egypt

Artist: Gerard David (Netherlandish, Oudewater ca. 1455–1523 Bruges)

Date: ca. 1512–15

Medium: Oil on wood

Dimensions: 20 x 17 in. (50.8 x 43.2 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: The Jules Bache Collection, 1949

Accession Number: 49.7.21


This composition presents the Flight into Egypt as a continuous narrative. In a tiny background scene the Holy Family emerges from the forest, en route to the contemporary Netherlandish town at the left. In the foreground Mary nurses the Child in a moment of repose on their arduous journey, which the viewer is visually meant to follow.

David achieved in this painting a remarkable balance of color and a serene sense of light and atmosphere. His awareness of Italian Renaissance conventions is evident in the pyramidal motif of the Virgin and Child and his use of chiaroscuro to convey the volume of the figures.