Flight into Egypt

The Flight into Egypt is a painting by Cavaliere d’Arpino (Giuseppe Cesari) located in the Borghese Gallery in Rome. It is an oil-on-panel with 45 x 33 cm dimensions, datable to 1592-1593.


The collection of Italian paintings is one of the most significant sections of the Borghese gallery: it has more than five hundred works chronologically. It covers the entire development period of the leading European schools of painting. Of these, no more than three hundred are presented in a permanent exhibition, and those stored in the gallery’s storerooms remain little known to the general public or specialists.

The Flight into Egypt artwork, datable to 1592-1593, may have been given or sold by the Cavalier d’Arpino to his patron Scipione Borghese, since it was one of the paintings not confiscated from the artist in 1607.

Be that as it may, it was in the Borghese Collection in 1637. Although Giacomo Manilli mentioned it to the Cavalier d’Arpino, it was not ascribed to him in the inventory of 1693.


The theme of the Flight into Egypt has frequently offered a chance for a landscape like this one in which the exotic vegetation is depicted in a magical atmosphere.

This scene is reminiscent of similar works by the Fleming Paul, who, like other 17th-century painters, used the motif of the round temple, which is seen here on the left background, the model for which was the temple of Vesta, or of the Sibyl, at Tivoli, Italy.

Creation Process

Within the studio of Cavaliere d’Arpino (Giuseppe Cesari), one of the foremost influential artists in Rome amid the pontificate of Clement VIII, painters from northern Europe were various. From this, Cavaliere d’Arpino likely derived his inclination for painting religious scenes in a landscape. He created delicate devotional depictions on copper or panel on a microscopic scale. In them, the lives of the saints or biblical scenes were improved by creative additions.

Another famous painting on the same topic is the Rest on the Flight into Egypt, which portrays the moment when a palm tree twists down at the request of the Christ Child so that Joseph can choose the dates Mary has asked for.

Borghese Gallery in Rome,
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Author: Cavaliere d'Arpino

Cavalier d'arpino

Giuseppe Cesari, known as the Cavaliere d'Arpino, was an Italian Mannerist painter of the late 16th century. The energy, emotional truthfulness, and clear color of his paintings foreshadow the Baroque style of the 17th century. He was much patronized in Rome by both Clement and Sixtus V. Also, he was the studio chief, in which Caravaggio trained upon the younger painter's arrival in Rome.

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