Anonymous (Andean, 18th century)
DIVINE SPLENDOR: SPANISH COLONIAL ART FROM THE COLLECTION OF JAMES LI
Anonymous (Andean, 18th century)

The Flight into Egypt

Details
Anonymous (Andean, 18th century)
The Flight into Egypt
oil on canvas
87 ½ x 74 in. (222 x 188 cm.)
Provenance
Marcelo Medeiros, São Paulo, Brazil.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.

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Virgilio Garza
Virgilio Garza

Lot Essay

The Holy Family is one of the most popular subjects in Western art. Numerous masters such as Raphael, El Greco, Rubens and others have interpreted the subject repeatedly. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke mention certain episodes that are part of Christ’s Nativity such as Adoration of the Shepherds, Adoration of the Magi and the Flight into Egypt. These events became part of devotional practices or meditations around the Holy Family which aided every Christian to lead a pious life. Prayers centered on these events became popular around the late Middle Ages as did the iconography of the Holy Family. Numerous theologians and spiritual authors such as the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits regarded the Holy Family as the reflection of the heavenly Holy Trinity and in the Viceroyalty of Peru, the Flight into Egypt was a particularly prolific subject. The present painting includes other narratives related to the Holy Child’s nativity; for example, the slaughter of the Holy Innocents is noted in the upper left of the painting. In the main image the Virgin sits on a donkey holding the Holy Child while an angel guides them on the ground. Joseph, the putative father and protector of the Holy Child and the Virgin, walks along them holding a basket of fruits and berries as they pass a tree bearing even more fruits for their sustenance. The ground is densely covered with flowers that soften their path as they escape from darkness into safety. The artist has delighted in giving Mary and Joseph local flavor as they both wear indigenous hats typical of the Altiplano region.
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