Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Giovanni di Niccolò Luteri, known as Dosso Dossi (Tramuschio, Modena? circa 1487 - Ferrara 1542)
As a young painter Dosso realized this intimate scene of the Holy Family fleeing from the Massacre of the Innocents ordered by Herod the Great, as recounted in the Gospel according to Matthew (2:13-18). The painting differs from the traditional iconography of the 'Rest during the Flight' due to the absence of both the donkey and the travelling equipment. This aspect accentuates the bond between the three sacred figures lying near the wood, on which the observer used to concentrate while praying. Joseph's stern eyes and the confident, understanding gaze between the Madonna and the Child are a sign of the danger averted. The rich and gentle nature welcomes the protagonists in a moment of rest and peace before resuming their journey. There are similarities with the style of Giorgione and the early Titian, although the flashes of light in the landscape, leaves and clothes allow us to get immersed in the magical, enchanted atmosphere that is typical of Dosso: a small, rural dream with a sacred theme depicted on a panel intended for private devotion. As a matter of fact, the painter's small works on the themes of Nativity and Rest were very popular within the splendid court of Ferrara, where the artist used to be the painter of the Este family for thirty years.
The work, which was listed in the Palatine Gallery in 1832 and attributed to Dosso, entered the Uffizi Gallery in 1919.
A. Ballarin, Dosso Dossi. La Pittura a Ferrara negli anni del Ducato di Alfonso I, V. 1, Cittadella (PD) 1995, p. 35; G.C.F. Villa, Riposo nella fuga in Egitto, in Tiziano. La Fuga in Egitto e la pittura di paesaggio, catalogo della mostra (Venezia, Gallerie dell’Accademia, 29 agosto – 2 dicembre 2012), a cura di I. Artemieva e G. Pavanello, Venezia 2012, p. 86; M. Menegatti, Riposo nella fuga in Egitto, in Dosso Dossi. Rinascimenti eccentrici al Castello del Buonconsiglio, catalogo della mostra (Trento, Castello del Buonconsiglio, monumenti e collezioni provinciali, 12 luglio – 2 novembre 2014), a cura di V. Farinella, L. Camerlengo, F. De Gramatica, Milano 2014, cat. 3, pp. 58-59.