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Adriaen van der Werff, 'The Rest on the Flight into Egypt', 1706

Key facts
Full title The Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Artist Adriaen van der Werff
Artist dates 1659 - 1722
Date made 1706
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 54.5 × 43 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1924
Inventory number NG3909
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Adriaen van der Werff

The Virgin Mary supports her son’s head with one hand and his chubby leg with the other, laying him down on her deep blue cloak. Her husband, Joseph, lies asleep behind them. Christ’s raised leg lifted to one side shows his genitals, proving that he is a human child – the son of man and the son of God, as had been promised in the scriptures.

After Christ’s birth, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, warning him that King Herod was searching for the child in order to kill him. He took Mary and the infant to Egypt for safety, a story told in the New Testament. While the holy family’s rest on their journey is not actually described anywhere, it has frequently been depicted throughout the ages.

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