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The Return of the Holy Family from Egypt

Traditionally called a Flight into Egypt, but the age of the Christ Child has suggested the much less usual subject of the return of the Holy Family from Egypt (Matthew II, 21). If the pyramid and obelisk on the far bank are intended to evoke Egypt, then the subject must be the flight, as the Holy Family is clearly embarking and not disembarking. There seems to be no direct textual source for the vision of the Cross -a clear presage of Christ's Passion, which, according to a number of commentators, began with the flight to Egypt. A similar vision can be found in other, later examples of the Flight (by Castiglione and Camassei, for example). DPG240 was probably painted within the period 1628-30. Another version in the Cleveland Museum of Art seems to be slightly earlier.

Currently on display

Artist
Nicolas Poussin
Date
c.1628-38
Location
Gallery 12 - East Wall
Dimensions
117.8 x 99.4 cm
Materials
Oil on canvas
Acquisition
Bourgeois Bequest, 1811
Accession number
DPG240