Titian, The Flight into Egypt

Circa 1506-7
Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

St. Joseph follows behind Mary and the child. On his left shoulder he carries the staff that is one of his attributes. His red beard and vigorous stride depart from the earlier tradition of picturing him as elderly. Usually he walks at the front of the group, but in this case the ass is led by Salome, his son by a previous marriage.

The sheep and deer lie calmly on the grass. Both of them are conventional symbols of the Christian faithful, and at first glance the whole landscape seems blessed by the peace of Christ. Yet danger lurks. A bull watches tensely in the distance, and a fox sneaks in from the lower right.

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Photographed at Venice's Accademia Gallery by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.