17th Century, Italian School, Oil on Canvas Painting with Flight to Egypt
The valuable and large painting, made in oil on canvas, represents the biblical scene of the Flight into Egypt. Stylistically it is ascribable to a painter active in central Italy, around the end of the seventeenth century.
There are ongoing artistic historical studies useful to outline the artistic figure of the painter.
The setting of the painting is characterized by the wide description of the landscape, where a river horizontally crosses the canvas separating the first floor, in which the main scene is set, from the rest of the landscape. Great rocky reliefs are imposed at the center and laterally; large green plants enliven the environment and the clear sky is marked by some soft clouds of steam.
In the foreground is described the episode of the flight to Egypt: in the center is depicted Mary with the child, sitting on a horse. The Virgin wears the traditional blue mantle and her head is covered by an oriental turban. Behind, on foot, a man with a stick could be identified as Joseph, while pointing the way to a woman carrying a bundle of cloth on her head. Before and after a caravan of sheep, dogs, dromedaries, horses loaded with goods, led by some characters and coming in the distance from the left, they go up to the right along the river.
The flight into Egypt is a biblical episode of the New Testament reported only by the Gospel according to Matthew (2:13-23). Joseph, together with Mary and the child Jesus, flees to Egypt after the visit of the Magi and after learning that King Herod the Great intends to have all the children of the area killed (massacre of the innocent). The event is frequently depicted in art as the final episode of scenes concerning the nativity and infancy of Jesus. However, since the sixteenth century it is often depicted alone, inserted in a landscape context in which the subjects become only pretext to animate the composition entirely centered in the nature description.
The author of this painting carefully investigates the many details: see for example the care with which he describes the turban of the Virgin, her earrings and the necklace, as well as the shiny branches loaded on horses or the fleece of the sheep and the soft rendering of the drapery.
The work has a great decorative effect. The frame is calibrated in solids and voids, framed by natural elements that act as a fifth, and the sequence of characters arranged horizontally give a pleasantly narrative effect.
The large canvas is inserted in a frame of great value and contemporary. This frame is made of carved and golden wood and has large phytomorphic elements at the expense of the angled, a sculpted band with internally foliated elements and a particular finish of smooth surfaces that creates a material and three-dimensional effect.
We apologize for any translation errors from Italian.