A piece that I wanted to talk about today is the MET’s The Rest on the Flight into Egypt. Unfortunately, the name of the artists are not known so it was created by a follower of Quentin Metsys and Master of the Liège Disciples at Emmaus in 1540.
A majority influence for the Rest on the Flight into Egypt was Quentin Metsys (also spelled Matsys or Massys). He was a Belgian painter and the founder of the Antwerp school, which was a school for many great artists such as Anthony van Dyck in the 17th century. Metsys’s work is intriguing; he created religious artworks, portraits, and satirical artpieces.
He created works such as the Madonna and Child in 1513.
Here there is a beautiful background with Mary holding the child Christ, and Christ playing with a sheep. There is no doubt that the playful child and sleep is a reference to the painful Passion that would eventually come. This subject matter is very typical during this time.
Another one of his works is a Grotesque Old Woman created the same year as the Madonna and Child (1513).
This work is meant to show an older lady who tries to flaunt herself and recapture her beauty, but is unsuccessful. It is believed that this “grotesque” style here was influential to John Tenniel’s illustrations of the Duchess in Alice in Wonderland.
This is the type of art that can be expected from Metsys, and these works influenced one of the painters for the Rest on the Flight into Egypt.
On the MET website, it states that the Virgin and Child have Italian style features especially in the way the figures have a “classical” appearance that can be seen in the works of Leonardo da Vinci. The figures are attributed to the follower of Metsys, and the landscape is attributed to the Master of the Liège Disciples.
To add to this, this piece is remarkable. The variety of colors are unique, having a soft background and Mary having darker tones in her clothes. I also enjoy the face of Mary and Christ here. It looks as though Christ is about to do something he shouldn’t, like maybe leap for the grapes, and Mary’s expression is smirkingly giving him a look so that he calms down; this showing off Christ’s kidlike nature, as a child, and Mary’s mother guidance to her son.