Nov 18, 2010
Nov 18, 2010

The Rest on the Flight into Egypt (recto); Sketch of a Sphinx [?] (verso)

The Rest on the Flight into Egypt (recto); Sketch of a Sphinx [?] (verso)

c. 1879–80

Part of a set. See all set records

Luc-Olivier Merson

(French, 1846–1920)

Gray and graphite wash, with scraping and traces of black chalk

Sheet: 14.5 x 25.5 cm (5 11/16 x 10 1/16 in.); Secondary Support: 27.9 x 39 cm (11 x 15 3/8 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1997.178


Did you know?

It is possible that this drawing served as a model for a print, but the best-known printed reproduction of the painting differs from the sheet in several minor details.


This drawing relates to Luc-Olivier Merson's Rest on the Flight into Egypt, among the most popular paintings exhibited at the 1879 Paris Salon. This dreamlike, highly unusual image from the familiar bible story shows Mary and Christ resting peacefully in the arms of a Sphinx, while Joseph sleeps near their dwindling fire. In the wake of its extraordinary success, Merson made several painted replicas of the work. Here, the composition is identical, but reversed, suggesting that it may have been an alternative version of the canvas.

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