Forest Edge (Flight into Egypt) - Jan Brueghel the Elder. 25 x 36 cm
The flight of the family of Jesus Christ to Egypt is one of the most popular religious subjects, often used by artists in their work. So in the Gospel of Matthew the following is described: the holy family flees to save Jesus from the beating of infants in Bethlehem. Such a cruel order was issued by the king of Judea to find the son of God and destroy him. Only after the death of Herod, the family was able to return from Egypt to the land of Israel.
In 1610, Jan Brueghel the Elder also addresses this topic. And, of course, his work can be distinguished immediately by the soft, saturated, dense, “velvety” forest landscape: what skill you must have in order to write down trees, branches, leaves so realistic; how the blue distance of the sky is filled with depth and air; what ability to combine colors so as to convey to us the complete harmony and beauty of nature. But Jan Brueghel the Elder possesses all these talents.
The unusually warm landscape the author animates with human figures. People, carts, animals appear at the forest edge. The heroes of the plot themselves are shifted to the left, they stand out as bright spots on the canvas.
Ahead is Mary with the baby Jesus, whom she presses to herself with maternal tenderness. Joseph is walking beside him, leading a donkey. The family leaves familiar places, a long and difficult path ahead. The way of Christ, with persecutions and trials, prepared for him from birth. The dry fallen tree in the foreground, as it were, symbolizes that this path will not be easy at all.
Creative people tend to be more sensitive and subtle perception of nature or religion. Therefore, the artist depicting this scene from the Gospel, necessarily rethinks the plot and gives it to us, the audience, through his understanding.
The goal of Bruegel the artist is to show the significance of the divine baby so carefully sheltered and protected by the parents, this messiah, thanks to which the future will change forever.