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Rest on the Flight to Egypt

In this tender scene, the Holy Family is shown resting in their flight to escape Herod, the ruler of Galilee. Joseph had been warned in a dream that Herod was searching for the Christ child to kill him.

Attended AAAS a couple weeks ago with the intention of letting ideas percolate on their own, without covering it in any immediate way.

As a result, no guilt about being unable to recall the text for the section in which this Aert de Gelder work is displayed at the Museum of Fine Arts, where the Association gave their science journalism award; having seen it on an empty stomach and a few glasses of wine, I remember something about the religiously orthodox duties of painters in that time and culture. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the text above, and the scene made me wonder about de Gelder himself; maybe he wasn’t quite so doctrinaire.

Joseph appears distracted from his Bible by the pleasant sight of a baby nursing — is it “the Christ child?” Or just his kid? Suckling, for the moment, on the lovely breast of his wife? A heartwarming and miraculous moment, yes, but not without some pleasantly non-religious implications. They are resting, after all.

Image and explanatory text: Boston Museum of Fine Art

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