Fuga in Egitto (c.1508)

Tiziano (c.1488-1576)

Fuga in Egitto (Flight into Egypt)
Oil on canvas, 206 x 336 cm
Hermitage MuseumSaint Petersburg

Titian, outstanding master of the Renaissance, is represented in the Hermitage by a number of superb works. The Flight into Egypt was painted in the artist’s youth and it still reveals the strong influence of Giorgione, with whom Titian worked for some time. The subject of the painting was popular during the Renaissance era and comes from the Gospel According to St Matthew (2:13-15) which relates how, in order to save the Christ Child from King Herod, the Virgin Mary and Joseph escaped to Egypt. In one apocryphal source, the Holy Family was accompanied by Christ’s cousin, James the Younger, and it is possible that it is he who is seen leading the ass. The artist depicted the heroes of the Holy Scripture with everyday simplicity: the tired Virgin, head bowed, the Child tied to her in the manner of ordinary peasants; James carrying a bundle in business-like manner; the old man, Joseph, trying not to be left behind. This large canvas allowed the master to create a sweeping panorama landscape. (SHM)