The Rest on the Flight into Egypt (The Repose of the Holy Family in Egypt)
William Blake (British, London 1757–1827 London)
Watercolor, pen and black ink over graphite
Sheet: 13 13/16 × 14 9/16 in. (35.1 × 37 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1906
Not on view
Having fled Judea to escape the persecution of King Herod, the Holy Family stops to rest on their way to Egypt. Blake placed them within a lyrical landscape lit by the setting sun and indicated their destination with distant pyramids. Since the biblical text that mentions this journey includes few details, Blake drew upon established devotional traditions to compose the scene. The Virgin seated on the ground to nurse the infant Christ recalls the Renaissance type of the Madonna of Humility. The enormous, sheltering palm tree is described in the apocryphal Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew as having bowed its branches to furnish the travelers with fruit, and the donkey is derived from a seventeenth-century engraving of the subject.
Signature: Signed and dated at lower right with monogram: "1806 WB inv"
(?) Thomas Butts (British, 1757–1845); (?) Thomas Butts Jr.; Richard Monckton Milnes (British, London 1809–1885 Vichy), by 1863; Robert Offley Ashburton Crewe-Milnes, 1st Marquess of Crewe (British, 1858–1948), son of the preceding, sold 1906; Vendor: Carfax & Co. (London)Vendor: Through Roger Eliot Fry (British, Highgate, Middlesex 1866–1934 London)
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