Editorial Photocolor Archives

The Flight into Egypt, by the Florentine Renaissance painter, Giotto, is one of a cycle of frescoes painted by the artist in Padua’s Arena Chapel in 1305–6. The entire interior of the little chapel is decorated with frescoes illustrating the lives of Mary, her parents and Jesus. This fresco depicts Joseph and Mary with the infant Jesus fleeing to Egypt to escape the jealous wrath of King Herod. The source of Giotto’s theme is found in the Gospel of Matthew (2:13) in which an angel appears to Joseph in a dream and warns him to “flee to Egypt—for Herod is about to search for the child to destroy him.” The holy family and warning angel are each framed with a golden halo. In Giotto’s interpretation the family departs in haste, carrying little other than drinking vessels, but not at night, as Matthew had specified.