In this composition, Gregorio Pagani remained close to the New Testament account of the final episode of Christ’s nativity (Matthew 2:13–23), in which Joseph, Mary, and infant Jesus fled into Egypt after learning that King Herod intended to kill all the male infants of Jerusalem. Staff in hand, Joseph forges ahead while Mary and Jesus follow behind on a donkey. Fluttering angels hover above; one at the left urges the Holy Family onward. Pagani was commissioned by the Médicis to create decorative schemes for their celebrations, and especially for altarpieces for churches and convents, but few of his paintings have survived. He is best known for highly finished, fully realized drawings such as this example in pristine condition.
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