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Rest on the Flight into Egypt

1879
Luc Olivier Merson (French, 1846–1920)


Dimensions

71.8 x 128.3 cm (28 1/4 x 50 1/2 in.)

Accession Number

18.652

Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

On View

Lorna and Robert Rosenberg Gallery (Gallery 252)

Collections

Europe

Classifications

Paintings

Fleeing persecution at the hands of Roman authorities, the Holy Family takes refuge in Egypt. Joseph dozes beside a dying campfire while his donkey grazes on sparse desert grass. At left sleep the Virgin Mary and infant Christ, crowned with a halo of light. They lie in the arms of a sphinx, its eyes turned to the heavens, where the first stars begin to appear. A successful Academic artist, Merson never traveled to North Africa, but his use of archeological detail creates the illusion of an eyewitness account, breathing new life into a time-honored subject.

Inscription

Lower right: LVC OLIVIER-MERSON / MDCCCLXXIX

Provenance

19th century, acquired in Paris by George Golding Kennedy (b. 1841 - d. 1918), Boston [see note 1]; 1918, bequest of George Golding Kennedy to the MFA. (Accession Date: November 7, 1918) NOTES: [1] According to notes in the MFA curatorial file.

Credit Line

Bequest of George Golding Kennedy