top of page

Gerard David - The Rest on the Flight into Egypt

by Alexandra Tuschka

Painted in 1510, it shows the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt. Here, however, a moment of pause was chosen. The attachment to God and the trust in his providence is characterized by the idyllic unity of the people with nature - the picture is to be understood as a devotional picture.

Mary and Jesus are sitting on a wall in a large format in the front part of the picture. Due to Mary's elevated position, one also speaks of the type of "Mary on the rose bench". The classical narrative ingredients of the motif are inserted - provisions are in a basket in the front of the picture, the donkey peers out through two trees on the left, and Joseph knocks nuts from a tree in the background. However, he appears almost incidental here.

The main symbolic action takes place in the front part of the picture: Jesus takes a bunch of grapes from the hands of his mother and thus, in a figurative sense, also accepts his suffering.

Gerard David - The Rest on the Flight into Egypt

Oil on wood, ca. 1510, 45 × 44.5 cm, National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.


bottom of page