Friday, December 25, 2015

Rest On The Flight To Egypt

This is one of those posts I could never, in a million years, have predicted I would put up here.  I found a 1994 calendar tonight.  (Unfortunately, it was good in 2015, but there are only six days left of this year.  The calendar is good again in 2022, which isn't that far off.)  It's a drug company promotional calendar which my mom got many of because she worked in a doctor's office.  It's paintings from the State Museum of Berlin.

detail from Altdorfer's Rest on the Flight from Egypt, 1510
Looking up pictures in a calendar, today with access to the internet, allows one to gain much greater depth of understanding than was easily available in the past.  So as I was checking on different pictures in the calendar, I looked up "Rest On The Flight To Egypt."  As with the previous pictures I looked up (this one is December) I expected to find it quickly.  I did, and I didn't.  I got a lot of hits for a picture of the same name by Caravaggio (1596-7), but the one in the calendar is by Albrecht Altdorfer and is dated 1510.

So I looked a little more and found a website that lists over 100 paintings with that same title!  You can see the list with links to the various versions here.  I guess that isn't so remarkable for biblical stories, but it did surprise me.

Here's Wikipedia's description of the subject matter (of the Caravaggio painting):
"The scene is based not on any incident in the Bible itself, but on a body of tales or legends that had grown up in the early Middle Ages around the Bible story of the Holy Family fleeing into Egypt for refuge on being warned that Herod the Great was seeking to kill the Christ Child. According to the legend, Joseph and Mary paused on the flight in a grove of trees; the Holy Child ordered the trees to bend down so that Joseph could take fruit from them, and then ordered a spring of water to gush forth from the roots so that his parents could quench their thirst. This basic story acquired many extra details during the centuries.

Caravaggio shows Mary asleep with the infant Jesus, while Joseph holds a manuscript for an angel who is playing a hymn to Mary on the violin."
From the photo I took of the calendar, you can't quite make out that Altdorfer's angels are also playing music, but with a small harp and a flute like instrument.

Actually, I thought I was going to put up pelican and other bird pictures today.

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