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The Flight Into Egypt

Aelbert Cuyp’s “The Flight Into Egypt” (ca. 1665)

Although I saw this painting at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, it is actually on loan from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Apparently Aelbert Cuyp (1620-1691) painted several canvases of the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt to escape Herod’s massacre of the innocents born around Bethlehem. According to the Gospel of St. Matthew (2:16):

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

This painting appealed to me because it moves its subject into an obviously European setting—certainly as far removed from the Sinai Peninsula as it is possible to be. At the same time, the scene is as peaceful as a bucolic Poussin or Lorrain painting of the same period.

Cuyp was noted for his landscapes. According to the Wikipedia entry on him, “he is especially known for his large views of Dutch riverside scenes in a golden early morning or late afternoon light.”