43. Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione

Genoa 1609 – 1664 Mantova

The Rest on the Flight into Egypt

Castiglione was one of the most original characters of the Baroque period in Italian art. Probably inspired by the sketches of Rubens and Van Dyck, who both worked in Genoa at the beginning of the seventeenth century, he devised a unique technique of drawing in oil paint on paper. In his lively, spontaneous style, he twice sketched the sub­ject of the Holy Family resting on the flight into Egypt. In the Rotterdam sheet (Boijmans Van Beuningen Muse­um), the Virgin, the Child and St Joseph form a very tight, dense group. That close-knit group, now joined by an angel and the young John the Baptist, seems to have been dissolved in our drawing, which also lends it dynamism. Castiglione here illustrates the story of the palm tree bending over to put its dates within the family’s reach. The fruit picked by Joseph and held out to the angel cre­ates a link which unites all the characters. John the Bap­tist gathers the dates into the basket and turns towards Jesus, who stretches his body towards the tree as his mother holds him.