Michelangelo Merisi
known as il Caravaggio

Rest on the Flight into Egypt

135.5 x 166.5 cm; oil on canvas (FC 241)

The Rest is one of the masterpieces of the young Caravaggio. The composition is divided in a completely original manner by the figure of an angel shown from the back playing a violin. On the right, surrounded by luxuriant vegetation is a sleeping Madonna with the Child in her arms. Both are depicted in an idealised style, and the beauty of their lineaments is in direct contrast to the naturalistic portrayal of Saint Joseph.

This is the artist’s first “historic” painting of such substantial dimensions. Arriving in Rome at the early 1590s, he began by painting half figures on small canvasses. In the Rest, dated around 1595, some points in the style of the landscape and tones of the light still show the influence of Lombardy and Veneto in the artist’s vision. The same model seems to have posed for this Madonna as for the Magdalene painted not long afterwards. The notes on the sheet of music are from a motif written by the Flemish composer Noel
Bauldwijn for a verse taken from the Song of Songs dedicated to the Madonna.

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