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Master of the Female Half-Lengths, The Rest on the Flight into Egypt

Key facts
Full title The Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Artist Master of the Female Half-Lengths
Artist dates active second quarter of the 16th century
Date made about 1540
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 84.2 × 64 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by Queen Victoria at the Prince Consort's wish, 1863
Inventory number NG720
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Master of the Female Half-Lengths

The holy family rest as they flee from Bethlehem to Egypt, trying to escape King Herod’s order that all boys under two be killed. Mary sits on a low wall that encloses a courtyard and a fountain. She has opened her dress and chemise to reveal her right breast, evidently to feed her son. Saint Joseph stands behind the wall and bends over to offer a dish of fruit – grapes, apples, cherries and perhaps a pear – to Christ. Their donkey, saddled and ready to go, grazes quietly in the field behind them.

There are obvious similarities between this painting and The Concert, the key work by the Master of the Female Half-Lengths (Schloss Rohrau, near Vienna). The two were probably painted around the same time, which, from the ladies' clothes in the Concert, may have been around 1540. The National Gallery panel once had an arched top.

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