Rest on the Flight into Egypt

about 1690
Aert de Gelder (Dutch, 1645–1727)


109.9 x 118.8 cm (43 1/4 x 46 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

On View

Art of the Netherlands in the 17th Century Gallery (Gallery 242)





Aert de Gelder was one of Rembrandt’s most faithful followers. This tender image shows the Holy Family resting as they fled Herod, the ruler of Galilee. Joseph, looking toward the Christ Child, points to a book—perhaps the passage in the Old Testament foretelling the Messiah’s birth. The monochrome palette, chiaroscuro, and strong emotional psychology of the scene are elements De Gelder surely learned from his teacher.


18th century, possibly von Plettenberg collection, Nordkirchen Castle, Lüdinghausen, Germany; 1833, possibly by descent within the Plettenberg family to Maria von Plettenberg and her husband, Count Nikolaus-Maria Franz Esterhàzy, Nordkirchen Castle [see note 1]; until 1904, remained with the Esterhàzy family at Nordkirchen Castle; 1904, sold by the Esterhàzy family to Duke Engelbert-Marie van Arenberg (b. 1872 - d. 1949), Nordkirchen [see note 2]; until 1956, by descent within the Arenberg family, Brussels [see note 3]. 1956, possibly with Edward Speelman, London. 1957, Horace Buttery, London; 1957, sold by Buttery to the MFA for $15,000. (Accession Date: March 14, 1957)

[1] According to a letter from H. Gerson, Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, The Hague, to Angelica Rudenstine of the MFA (December 3, 1964), this painting may have belonged to the Plettenberg family as early as the 18th century. Ferdinand von Plettenberg, who died in 1737, is said to have acquired many pictures that were kept in the castle. The building and its contents were transferred to the Esterhàzy family when Maria von Plettenberg married Count von Esterhàzy in 1833. According to information provided by Horace Buttery at the time of the painting's acquisition, it was catalogued by the Esterhàzy family (no. 64); although this catalogue has not been identified, it may be the "Verzeichnis vermutlicher Autoren der Nordkirchener Bilder" of 1850.

[2] Nordkirchen Castle and its contents were sold by the Esterhàzy family to Engelbert van Arenberg in 1904. This painting was lent by the Duke of Arenberg, Nordkirchen, to the Kunsthistorische Ausstellung (Düsseldorf, 1904), cat. no. 303.

[3] By 1914 the painting was published as being with the Duke of Arenberg in Brussels (Karl Lilienfeld, Arent de Gelder: sein Leben und seine Kunst, 1914, p. 148, cat. no. 53).

Credit Line

M. Theresa B. Hopkins Fund