The Donkey Led to the River

The Flight into Egypt

The Donkey Led to the River

c. 1652-1654

Part of a set. See all set records

Herman van Swanevelt

(Dutch, c. 1600-1655)

Etching and engraving

Gift of Louise S. Richards in appreciation of The Print Club of Cleveland 1987.92.3

Catalogue raisonné: Hollstein vol. XXIX, page 54, no. 8

State: II/IV



This series by Herman Swanevelt, The Flight into Egypt, illustrates an event from the New Testament of the Bible. Joseph, Mary, and Christ fled into Egypt to escape King Herod's persecution. Traditionally represented as a single image, Swanevelt enlarged the story into four scenes. The Holy family is first shown traveling with three angels behind them, then Joseph helps Mary off the donkey, next Joseph leads the donkey to water as Mary changes the child, and finally the family is at rest. However, the main focus of each of these prints is the depiction of landscape, a genre that reached unprecedented levels of popularity during the 1600s. The scenery, looking much more like the Italian countryside than Egypt, was inspired by Swanevelt's paintings. Although he was Dutch, he spent most of his career in Paris and Rome. As a painter, he was known for his ability to convey warm, glowing sunlight, a quality also found in his etchings.

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