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Rest on the Flight into Egypt



Abraham Bloemaert
Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Dutch, 1564–1651
oil on panel
13.38 x 23.38 inches (33.99 x 59.39 cm)
Acquired with funds provided by Mrs. Walter Lake
1991.047

This pastoral scene’s unusually vibrant palette, contemporary setting and clothing, and compositional focus on the landscape rather than the biblical figures referenced by the title are characteristic of the Mannerist style of Abraham Bloemaert’s landscapes.

In place of the standard iconographic clues of a donkey, desert landscape, palm tree, or pyramid to indicate the biblical locale of Egypt, Bloemaert painted Dutch peasant huts and windmills. Yet we recognize the young woman nursing a child and her older male companion resting in the shade as stand-ins for the Holy Family briefly pausing on their flight from the wrath of King Herod.

Bloemaert was a prolific painter who was accomplished in more than one style and genre. He also designed hundreds of engravings while established in Utrecht. Many important artists of the next generation, in addition to his four sons, studied with him. Bloemaert received commissions for large altarpieces from patrons throughout the Netherlands, and his fame attracted Peter Paul Rubens to visit his studio in 1627.