Rest on the Flight into Egypt (c. 1597) is a painting by the Italian Baroque master Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, in the Doria Pamphilj Gallery, Rome.
The scene is based not on any incident in the Bible itself, but on a body of tales or legends that had grown up in the early Middle Ages around the Bible story of the Holy Family fleeing into Egypt for refuge on being warned that Herod the Great was seeking to kill the Christ Child.
According to the legend, Joseph and Mary stopped on the flight in a grove of trees; the Holy Child ordered the trees to bend down so that Joseph could take fruit from them, and then ordered a spring of water to gush forth from the roots so that his parents could quench their thirst.
The basic story took on many extra details during the centuries. Caravaggio shows Mary asleep with the infant Jesus, while Joseph holds a manuscript for an angel who is playing a hymn to Mary on the violin.
The ass, a traditional ingredient of the legend and a foretelling of the ass that would one day bear Christ into Jerusalem, watches.
Like most depictions of the flight to Egypt this is a peaceful moment, one in which the scenery is to be enjoyed, more gardenscape than landscape. The luminous figure of the adolescent angel, at once serene and sensuous, holds the centre of the group. The mother and child grouping, one of many that Caravaggio would paint, is comparable in its delicacy and realism to the best that the thousands in the canon can offer.
Franz Schubert - Ave Maria For Violin