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Pier Francesco Mola, The Rest on the Flight into Egypt

Key facts
Full title The Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Artist Pier Francesco Mola
Artist dates 1612 - 1666
Date made about 1630-5
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 30.5 × 45.7 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Lord Farnborough, 1838
Inventory number NG160
Location Room 37
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Pier Francesco Mola

The holy family are resting from their travels in this small pastoral scene. The Virgin Mary sits on a rock, absorbed in nursing the Christ Child; a bundle and pitcher lie on the ground beside her. Saint Joseph leans on the rocky ground beyond, looking up at a small cloud above the Virgin’s head, out of which peer three cherubs. His staff rests against the rock and their donkey grazes in the background on the left.

After the birth of Christ at Bethlehem, King Herod ordered all the male first-born children in the area to be executed – the so-called Massacre of the Innocents – so Mary and Joseph fled to safety in Egypt. Here, however, there is no sign of pursuing soldiers: the scene has the domestic charm of a day out in the countryside.

This is a comparatively early work by Mola, who specialised in small idyllic landscapes with religious subjects. The influence of his master, Francesco Albani, is evident in this painting.

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