Artwork of the Week: July 25, 2022

 In MOA Artwork of the Week

Hermann Kaulbach (1846-1909), Ruhe auf de Flucht nach Ägypten (Rest on the Flight to Egypt), no date, oil on canvas, 75 1/2 x 59 1/2. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Diane Clark Husein, 2019. 

While the New Testament mentions little about Mary, Joseph, and the young Jesus’ journey to Egypt, legends arose throughout the centuries enriching the narrative. The Rest on the Flight into Egypt became a popular visual motif envisioning the weary family receiving respite and sustenance during their long journey. Kaulbach’s depiction merges realist precision with a poetic sense of devotion. The family travels under the cover of night in the harsh desert. Mary holds the sleeping Christ child close to her breast, His radiant light illuminating her face and veil. Two children offer much-needed water to the wearied mother with evident awe and adoration. Joseph, their devoted mortal guardian, tenderly watches the interaction. The meticulous details convey a reality to the scene, reflective of both 19th-Century interest in Egyptian culture and peoples, as well as a nuanced psychological portrait of a weary mother caring for her infant son in a strange, desolate land.

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