One of Domenico Tiepolo's famous series of large compositions depicting New Testament scenes drawn, according to James Byam Shaw, after the artist's return from Spain in 1770. The group, originally mounted in an album, numbered more than three hundred sheets, but was divided into two parts in the early 19th Century: 138 drawings were acquired by Monsieur Fayet in Venice in 1833, and were given to the Louvre in 1889, and 176 were bought by Monsieur Luzarches from Tours. The Luzarches group, from which this drawing probably comes, was then divided. The greater part, 82 sheets, was in the Cormier Collection in Tours until sold in Paris on 30 April 1921. Seventeen drawings were in the Jean Gigoux Collection, partly kept in Besançon and partly sold in Paris on 20 March 1882. Ten further sheets from that group were sold in Paris on 21 November 2001, lots 60-69. Individual drawings were sold at Christie's, New York, 9 January 1991, lot 26; 30 January 1997, lot 83; 28 January 1999, lot 17; and 22 January 2003, lot 54; and Christie's London, 6 July 1993, lot 93a; and 7 July 1998, lot 150. A group of biblical drawings was exhibited in Udine (A.M. Gealt and G. Knox, Giandomenico Tiepolo, exhib. cat., Castello di Udine and elsewhere, nos. 88-112; others illustrated pp. 78-87).
The Flight into Egypt seems to have been one of Domenico's favourite subjects: a variant is in the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York (A.M. Gealt and G. Knox, op. cit., no. 92), ten are in the recueil Fayet in the Louvre (nos. 53-9 and 63-4 and 98, J. Byam Shaw, The Drawings of Domenico Tiepolo, London, 1962, no. 29) and two others are in the Cormier Collection (lots 48 and 51), one of which is very close in composition to the present sheet. Domenico also etched a series of 27 prints of the subject.