When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt
(Matthew 2: 14).
In this evocative work John Martin illustrates the escape of the Holy family from the wrath of King Herod. The Flight into Egypt was a theme which Martin returned to on several occasions. Presumably to satisfy the demand from a variety of patrons Martin not only drew this watercolour but it was also widely reproduced three years later in mezzotint. Martin also produced another mezzotint of the same subject with some compositional variations.1
These were subsequently followed by the large canvas of The Flight into Egypt,
exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1842.2
1. Michael J. Campbell, John Martin Visionary Print Maker, London, 1992, p. 152, no. C.W. 113
2. William Feaver, The Art of John Martin, Oxford, 1975, p. 172, no. 129.