Landscape with the Flight into Egypt

Joachim Patinir
1516 - 1517
21 cm x 17 cm
Inventory number: 
Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp
Category B: Southern Low Countries
16th century Christs Flights Holy Familys

The work is dominated by the landscape. On the foreground, the singular subject is depicted in small: Joseph leads the donkey that carries Mary and the recently born Jesus. They are in flight to Egypt because of Herod’s order given to kill all young boys under the age of two. To the left on the rocks stands a pedestal, from which a statue has fallen down. This illustrates the legend that a graven image of a god falls off of its plinth when Jesus passes by.
The landscape is depicted from three levels. The first level is formed by the stones on the foreground, and behind this a small, pleasant village is seen and in the background, there is an expansive sea. This is enhanced by the colours, which obscure the distance. This suggests depth.
The landscape is not realistic, and that emphasises the religious subject. The rocks are from Patinir’s home region of Dinant, the village from the hills of Brabant and the sea from Italy.