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The Dramatic Image: Baroque Prints of the 17th Century

Christoffel Jegher
Flemish, about 1596–about 1652
After Peter Paul Rubens
Flemish, 1577–1640

Rest on the Flight into Egypt

Chiaroscuro woodcut, about 1630–40
Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1983.106

In an image of contented motherhood, Mary gazes peacefully at the viewer,the rotund Christ Child sleeping on her lap with his head resting on her bosom. In the foreground of the picturesque forest setting two putti play with a lamb, while a third cautions them to be quiet. Joseph is relegated to the background, his back to the viewer, sleeping on the ground with his head propped against a tree. The donkey, conveyance of Mary and the Child as the Holy Family travels to Egypt to escape King Herod, grazes at the far left.The most important and prolific Flemish artist of the seventeenth century, Peter Paul Rubens was a master of naturalism. This particular print recreates the right side of The Holy Family with Saints, a painting currently in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. In collaboration with Christoffel Jegher, Rubens transformed the painting’s energized, animated, and rolling Flemish landscape into a lively and organic chiaroscuro woodcut.