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
Frances Vrachos Gallery (Gallery 144)
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)
 According to notes in the MFA curatorial file.
Bequest of George Golding Kennedy