The flight to Egypt Softwood (c.1494 – 1497) by Albrecht Durer

The flight to Egypt   Softwood - Albrecht Durer - c.1494 - 1497

Artwork Information

TitleThe flight to Egypt Softwood
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Datec.1494 - 1497
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance

About The flight to Egypt Softwood

Albrecht Dürer, a pivotal figure of the Northern Renaissance, created “The Flight to Egypt” between 1494 and 1497 as part of his series “The Seven Sorrows of Mary.” This religious painting is executed on softwood using the medium of oil. It exemplifies the meticulous detail and craftsmanship characteristic of the period and reflects a religious theme popular among artworks of that era.

The depicted scene illustrates the biblical account of the Holy Family—Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus—fleeing to Egypt to escape King Herod’s decree of infanticide. Mary is shown seated on a donkey, cradling the baby Jesus in her arms. She wears a blue cloak over a pinkish-orange garment, which indicates her traditional iconography, and both she and Jesus have halos, denoting their sacredness. Her facial expression is contemplative, perhaps conveying the mixture of protective maternal love and the foreboding of the hardships they are to endure.

Joseph is depicted with a determined but cautious look as he leads the donkey through a rugged terrain. He is dressed in earth tones and carries a walking stick, suggesting his role as the protector and guide for his family during the precarious journey. The landscape around them includes trees, rocks, and a winding path, which contributes to the narrative of travel and the hardships of their exile.

In terms of style, Dürer’s attention to detail is evident in the rendering of textures, from the folds of the clothing to the furry hide of the donkey. The lifelike representation, accurate use of perspective, and vivid portrayal of the figures against the background all speak to the Northern Renaissance’s preoccupation with realism and nature, infused with a profound sense of the divine.

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