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The Flight into Egypt
El Greco
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El Greco

Candía (Creta), 1541 - Toledo, 1614

The Flight into Egypt

Ca. 1570. Oil on pine panel, 15.9 x 21.6 cm.

This small panel -it is practically a miniature- is truly exceptional among El Greco’s works. In it, he employs landscape as an essential compositional element while simultaneously demonstrating his mastery of the techniques and expressive resources of 16th-century Venetian painting. The Holy Family is depicted on its journey to Egypt, fleeing the persecution of Herod, who decreed the execution of all babies born in Bethlehem after the Three Kings informed him of the birth of the King of the Jews. The Gospel of Saint Matthew succinctly narrates this episode: When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up", he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him". So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt (Matthew 2: 13-14).

The iconography of this simple passage grew increasingly rich throughout the Middle Ages, thanks to different traditions from the Apocrypha and The Golden Legend. Thus, new episodes and characters were added, expanding the original evangelical description. None of these extra-biblical additions appear in the present work. El Greco places the story’s three essential characters in a beautiful and hilly evening landscape. Mary sits on a donkey, carrying her Child in her arms. The infant is depicted as a lively and chubby boy whose curiosity leads him to turn his head to watch Saint Joseph’s efforts to pull the donkey onto the bridge. This uncommon gesture recalls Correggio’s Adoration of the Shepherds and emphasizes Joseph’s active role in the flight.

The landscape that El Greco chose for this scene is quite rugged and its predominantly ocher palette contrasts with the intense blue sky filled with cottony clouds. The warm, oblique sunshine fills the scene with its own luminosity, generating a subtle succession of lights and shadows. The fluid, vermicular brushstrokes and the conception of the sky are characteristic of this period. The painting is first mentioned in 1682, when it was at the Palazzo della Vigna, the Roman residence of Gaspar Ménedez de Haro, VII Marquis of el Carpio (1629-1687) (Text drawn from Ruiz, L.: El Greco en el Museo Nacional del Prado. Catálogo Razonado, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2007, p. 32; El Greco. Guía de sala, Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado, 2011, p. 12).

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Technical data

Inventory number
P07772
Author
El Greco
Title
The Flight into Egypt
Date
Ca. 1570
Technique
Oil
Support
Pine panel
Dimension
High/Height: 15.9 cm.; Width: 21.6 cm.
Provenance
Collection of Gaspar Méndez de Haro y Guzmán, VII Marquis del Carpio and Heliche; probably in the Collection of the House of Alba; Antonio Gorostiza Collection, 1904-ca. 1926; Thomas Andrews Collection, London?; sold by Mrs. Marie Sterner to Agnew in 1929, New York, and bought that year by Baron Robert von Hirsch, Basel; sold at Sotheby's Parke Bernet, London, June 21, 1978 (Lot No. 115); bought by the Spanish State at Christie's, London, December 13, 2000 (Lot No. 71); assigned to the Prado Museum, 2001.

Bibliography +

Exposición de pintura retrospectiva, Bilbao, 1904, pp. n.81.

Cossío, Manuel B.1857-1935, El Greco, Victoriano Suárez, Madrid, 1908, pp. 555 n.31.

Mayer, A. L., Domenico Theotocopuli el Greco, Munich, 1926, pp. 7 n.24.

Waterhouse, E., El Greco's Italian period, Art studies. Medieval Renaissance and Modern, VIII, 1930, pp. 61-88.

Mayer, August L.1885-1944, El Greco, Klinkhardt Und Biermann, Berlin, 1931, pp. 13.

Legendre, M. Hartmann, A., Domenico Theotocopouli dit el Greco, Hyperion, Paris, 1937, pp. 129.

Gómez Moreno, Manuel, El Greco (Domenico Theotocopuli)., Ediciones selectas, Barcelona, 1943, pp. 48 Lám. IV.

Camón Aznar, José1898-1979, Dominico Greco, I, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1950, pp. 59.

Camón Aznar, José1898-1979, Dominico Greco, I y II, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1950, pp. 59 n.68.

Martin-Méry, Gilberte, Domenico Theotocopuli dit Le Greco. 1541-1614. De la Crete a Tolède par Venise, Delmas, Burdeos, 1953, pp. n.11.

Arte Veneta., Arte Veneta, 8, 1954, pp. 220 n.47.

Gaya Nuño, Juan Antonio, La pintura española fuera de España, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1958, pp. n.1190.

Wethey, Harold, El Greco and his school, I, Princenton University Press, Princenton, 1962, pp. 21.

Wethey, Harold, El Greco and his school, II, Princenton University Press, Princenton, 1962, pp. 56-57.

Longhi, R., Un monografia su El Greco e due suoi inediti, Paragone, 1963, pp. 52.

Camón Aznar, José, Dominico Greco, I y II, Espasa-Calpe, Madrid, 1970, pp. 75 n.68.

Salas, Xavier de, La obra pictórica completa de el Greco, Noguer, Barcelona Madrid, 1970, pp. n.12.

Gudiol, José1904-1985, El Greco 1541-1614: Doménikos Theotokópoulos, Polígrafa, Barcelona, 1971, pp. 28-33 n.340.

Da Tiziano a El Greco: per la storia del Manierismo a Venezi, Electa, Milán, 1981, pp. n.105.

Pita Andrade, José Manuel, El Greco, Arnoldo Mondadori, Milán, 1981, pp. n.12.

Hadjinicolaou, Nicos, El Greco Byzantium and Italy, Crete university press, Crete, 1990, pp. 207.

Álvarez Lopera, José, El Greco: la obra esencial, Silex, Madrid, 1993, pp. 27 n.10.

Marías, Fernando, El Greco. Biografía de un pintor extravagante, Nerea, Madrid, 1997, pp. 72,73 y 332.

Subasta del 13 de diciembre de 2000, Chirstie's London, 13-12, 2000, pp. n.71.

Museo Nacional del Prado, El Greco y la pintura española del Renacimiento: guía, Museo del PradoAldeasa, Madrid, 2001, pp. 84-85.

Museo Nacional del Prado. Memoria de Actividades: adquisiciones 2001, Museo del Prado: Memoria de actividades, 2001, pp. 22-23.

Portús, Javier, La Coleccion de Pintura Española en el Museo del Prado, Edilupa, Madrid, 2003, pp. 57.

Constantoudaki-Kitromilides, Maria, ''La huida a Egipto y la producción juvenil de El Greco''. En: El Greco, Galaxia gutenberg - Fundación amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 2003, pp. 21.

Álvarez Lopera, José, El Greco estudio y catálogo, II/I, Fundación de Apoyo a la Historia, Madrid, 2005, pp. 52.

Martínez-Burgos García, Palma, El Greco: el pintor humanista, obra completa, Libsa, Madrid, 2005, pp. 218.

Alvarez Lopera, J, 'Domenico Theotocopuli La huida Egipto' En: Enciclopedia del Museo del Prado, IV, T.F. Editores - Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 2006, pp. 1299-1301.

Ruiz Gomez, Leticia, El Greco en el Museo Nacional del Prado : catálogo razonado, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2007, pp. 32-37 n.1.

Ruíz Manero, J. M., Los Bassano en España, Fundación Universitaria Española, Madrid, 2011, pp. 386, n.12NB [No Bassano] ; il.LXVIII.

Marías, Fernando, El Greco. Historia de un pintor extravagante, Nerea, Donostia, 2013, pp. 58.

Maurer, G., Goya: lo bello y lo recóndito. En: La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 138.

Mena Marqués, M.; Albarrán, V., La belleza encerrada: de Fra Angelico a Fortuny, folleto, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2013, pp. 19 n.55.

Ruiz, L, 'El uso de estampas en la pintura de El Greco' En:, La biblioteca del Greco. (dir) Docampo, Javier, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2014, pp. 78-107 [85].

Mena Marqués, M.; Albarrán, V., Azúa, F. de, La belleza cautiva. Pequeños tesoros del Museo del Prado, Museo del Prado - Obra Social ''La Caixa'', Barcelona, 2014, pp. 83.

Ruiz, Leticia, 'Que sus pinturas no se equivoquen con Tiziano. La construcción pictórica del Greco' En:, El Greco & la pintura moderna, Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, 2014, pp. 51-75 [55].

Rodríguez Velasco, María, 'Realeza divinidad y humanidad en la infancia de Cristo.La huída a Egipto'. En: El Greco en Madrid. Belleza y significado., Arzobispado de Madrid, Madrid, 2014, pp. 141-146.

Prado captive beauty : treasures from the Prado Museum, Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, 2015, pp. n.13.

Other inventories +

Inv. Nuevas Adquisiciones (iniciado en 1856). Núm. 2587.

Exhibitions +

Captive Beauty. Treasures from The Prado Museum
Tokio
10.10.2015 - 31.01.2016

La bellesa captiva. Petits tresors del Museo del Prado
Barcelona
16.07.2014 - 05.01.2015

Captive Beauty. Small Treasures at the Prado Museum
Barcelona
16.07.2014 - 05.01.2015

Captive Beauty. Fra Angelico to Fortuny
Madrid
21.05.2013 - 10.11.2013

El Greco in the Prado
Madrid
04.12.2007 - 17.02.2008

Location +

Room 008B (On Display)

Expuesto
Update date: 03-12-2016 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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