Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Luc Olivier Merson (French, 1846–1920)
71.8 x 128.3 cm (28 1/4 x 50 1/2 in.)
Medium or Technique
Oil on canvas
Lorna and Robert Rosenberg Gallery (Gallery 252)
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.
Lower right: LVC OLIVIER-MERSON / MDCCCLXXIX
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:  According to notes in the MFA curatorial file.
Bequest of George Golding Kennedy