The Works of Fra Angelico – The Flight Into Egypt

The Flight into Egypt by Fra AngelicoThis little panel, but fifteen inches square, is one of a series of thirty-five scenes from the life of Christ, painted, probably about 1449, by order of Piero de’ Medici, to decorate the doors of the presses which held the silver altar-plate of the Church of the Annunziata, Florence. The whole series, now in the Florence Academy, was executed under Fra Angelico’s direct supervision, but some of the panels must be assigned altogether, or in great part, to his pupils and assistants. ‘The Flight into Egypt,’ which is here reproduced, is one of the finest of all the scenes, and was executed by Fra Angelico himself.

The subject is treated in the manner of Giotto, and is impressive in the simplicity and directness with which the story is told. The Virgin, wrapped in a long blue mantle and riding upon an ass, clasps the Child tenderly in her arms, while Saint Joseph, clad in a yellow tunic, walks behind, carrying his cloak on a staff borne across his shoulder. The winding mountain path is bordered with cypresses and olive-trees, and wildflowers cover the ground.