Feb 8, 2007
Jun 23, 2008

The Return of the Holy Family to Nazareth

The Return of the Holy Family to Nazareth

c. 1627

Nicolas Poussin

(French, 1594–1665)

Oil on canvas

Framed: 159.5 x 124 x 14.5 cm (62 13/16 x 48 13/16 x 5 11/16 in.); Unframed: 134 x 99 cm (52 3/4 x 39 in.)

Gift of the Hanna Fund 1953.156


When King Herod learned that he would lose his throne to a child born in Bethlehem, he ordered all male infants to be massacred. Mary and Joseph thus fled to Egypt to protect their son, Jesus. The age of the boy in this painting suggests that Poussin depicted the less-common subject of the Holy Family’s return from Egypt. Jesus reaches toward a vision of a cross borne by angels, a reference to both his eventual crucifixion and Herod’s cruel slaughter of innocent children.

See also
Type of artwork: 
Oil on canvas

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