The Flight into Egypt
Oil on cigar box wood. 23.5 x 14 cm.
In Siegfried Wichmann's catalogue raisonné, this painting is listed with a certificate of authenticity from Otto Spitzweg (Munich, 5.3.1915), an expertise by Adolf Alt (Munich, 16.7.1925), and one by Ernst Buchner (Munich, 17.3.1955).
Biblical motifs are rare in the oeuvre of the Munich based painter Carl Spitzweg, although we know of several variations of the Flight into Egypt motif originating from his later period between 1870 and 1885 which can be considered among the finest examples of his religious works (see: Wichmann, no. 1271-1282). The present work belongs to this group, and Wichmann also dates it to around 1875-1880. It contains an interesting iconographic detail: Instead of being led by Saint Joseph as one would expect in this motif, the horse carrying Mary and the infant Christ is instead guided by a figure of a knight, identifiable by his helmet with its pale lilac plume and his white and red cross cloak. Apart from the few colourful accents in the figure's clothing and the vivid blue of the Virgin's gown, the image is dominated by the finely nuanced green tones of the woodland, which is depicted in a loose and painterly style.
Siegfried Wichmann: Carl Spitzweg. Verzeichnis der Werke. Gemälde und Aquarelle, Stuttgart 2002, p. 482, no. 1284.