Titian (c. 1488-1576)
The Flight into Egypt
Painted ca. 1506-07. 206 x 336 cm
Source: National Gallery of London
The exhibition at the National Gallery explores Titian’s originality in creating one of the first large scale landscape narratives, and will demonstrate how he adapted ideas from the work of other artists in order to create his sophisticated composition. The painting is exhibited alongside more than 20 works by Titian’s Venetian contemporaries including, Bellini, Giorgione, and Sebastiano del Piombo. Artists such as Albrecht Dürer, who was in Venice at the time Titian began this work, will also be included in the exhibition.
"The Flight into Egypt" is believed to be one of Titian’s earliest paintings. Produced on an impressive sized canvas, the landscape occupies most of the composition, drawing the viewer’s eye to the green of the foliage, and the blues of the sky, mountains and stream. This unprecedented sensitivity to colour is a characteristic of Titian. He spontaneously displayed a naïve approach to nature, especially in the depiction of animals. The choice of this particular subject allowed the young painter to display his precocious skill in landscape painting and reveals the bold brushwork and exhilarating use of colour that would become signatures of his artistic style.
The work has been generously lent by the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, and will be showcased at the National Gallery for the first time following a lengthy and skilful restoration. This will be the first time the work has been seen outside Russia since 1768 when Empress Catherine the Great purchased the picture. 'The Flight into Egypt' is therefore almost entirely unknown to the British audience as it has not left Russia since its purchase. Seeing it in the context of the works will be a revelation to the public and scholars alike.