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

The Flight into Egypt

Details
Anonymous (Cuzco school, 18th century)
The Flight into Egypt
oil on canvas
61 5/8 x 45 ¼ in. (156.5 x 114.9 cm.)
Provenance
Private collection, São Paulo.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.

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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 earthly reflection of the heavenly Holy Trinity.
In the Viceroyalty of Peru, the Flight into Egypt was a particularly prolific subject, in part attributed to the devotion of Saint Joseph, who was promoted widely in the region as an exemplary man and head of household. In the present painting, Joseph is only partially in view, protecting the family from the dangers from which they fled, while an angel takes the donkey’s reigns and guides the family to safety. Here, the Virgin Mary and Christ Child are of primary importance, denoted both by their prominent placement and the extravagantly-decorated garments that adorn the Virgin. In keeping with the Cuzco school tradition of embellishing figures in gold detailing, here the artist decorated both Mary and Joseph with delicate gold floral patterns on their robes, but the artist pulled out all stops for the Virgin’s mantle, which is replete with an intricate lace-like pattern.
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