The Flight into Egypt by Boat

Hieronymus Wierix (Flemish 1553-1619)
Engraving 2010.11.1
Museum purchase in honor of Dr. Walter S. Melion

This engraving from the Life of the Virgin treats the Flight into Egypt in a singular fashion. Usually the escape of Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus from King Herod's murderous threats (Matthew 2: 11-12) is rep-resented with Mary and the baby riding on a donkey while Joseph walks beside them, or the Holy Family is shown at rest, seated beneath a tree in the countryside. Versions of both those scenes appear in the series, but Wierix has also added a journey over water. Mary is seated in a wooden boat nursing Jesus, with Joseph at the tiller. They skim across waves teeming with fish, their sail blown by cherubs.

Hieronymus and his brothers Jan and Antoon were some of the most prolific printmakers working in the Netherlands between 1570 and 1620. They are known primarily for their virtuosity as engravers and their ability to rapidly produce prints that appealed to popular taste. They originally learned to engrave by copying the engravings of Albrecht Dürer. This influence accounts for the miniaturist precision of their style.