The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Flight into Egypt

Object Details


The Flight into Egypt


Simon Bening (Flemish, about 1483 - 1561)




Bruges, Belgium (Place Created)


about 1525–1530


Tempera colors, gold paint, and gold leaf on parchment

Object Number:

Ms. Ludwig IX 19 (83.ML.115), fol. 47v


Leaf: 16.8 × 11.4 cm (6 5/8 × 4 1/2 in.)

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Object Description

Fleeing to Egypt to avoid Herod's massacre of all newborn children, Joseph walks beside his wife the Virgin Mary, who cradles the Christ child while seated on a donkey. As the family passes a pagan idol atop a column, it breaks in half, signifying the downfall of paganism and the onset of the new Christian era. In the middle ground at the left, soldiers pursuing the Holy Family stop to question a farmer in a field. He truthfully informs them that he saw the family when he was planting his crops, omitting to tell them that the wheat had miraculously grown to full height overnight. Assuming that they had missed the family by months, the soldiers give up their search. These two apocryphal stories often appeared in medieval depictions of the Flight into Egypt.

Remembering Antiquity: The Ancient World Through Medieval Eyes (January 24 to May 28, 2017)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), January 24 to May 28, 2017