In my post, https://silverpaintedriver.com/2016/01/31/the-lady-in-blue/, of 2 days ago, I included the image below. The post outlines the reasons why the Virgin Mary is predominately clothed in blue in Christian art, and this gorgeous painting illustrated my point beautifully.
The REST ON THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT is a set piece in Christian art.
Following THE NATIVITY, Joseph receives information that the life of his newborn son is under threat. King Herod, the Roman-appointed King of the Jews, has heard that there is a new King of the Jews, namely Jesus. In an attempt to defend his throne against this perceived rival, Herod takes immediate and violent action and orders the massacre of all male infants of 2 years and under in Bethlehem. (This is also a set piece in Christian art, and a very powerful one – THE MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS.) To avoid the infanticide Joseph and his family flee to Egypt.
In responses to the post, the delicate rendition of the scene by Gerard David was much admired, but there were questions as to what exactly Joseph was up to in the background(!).
So, to put all our minds at rest, this is what The National Gallery of Art in Washington has to say:
‘The Virgin longed for food, but the date–palm branches were too high for Joseph to pick any fruit. Thereupon Jesus commanded the tree to lower its branches. David deemphasized this miracle by giving Joseph a sturdy stick and by replacing the date palm with a Flemish chestnut tree, but a sixteenth–century audience would have remembered the apocryphal story.’
So now we know!
Gosh I just love that pale turquoise landscape below that hazy azure sky…
Image: Wikimedia Commons