Les Enluminures

3. Hours of the Virgin
Infancy Cycle

Flight into Egypt

For the Hour of Vespers, the Flight into Egypt shows Mary and the Christ Child on a donkey led by Joseph into Egypt in response to Herod’s edict ordering the murder of all the firstborn infants. This is a folksy depiction. A country inn in the background is decorated with its pictorial signs, including a swan, and in front a woman, perhaps the innkeeper, who is accompanied by her child, waves at the passing family group. In the right background, idols tumble from a gold pedestal, a reference to an apocryphal legend that when Mary and Christ entered Egypt the pagan gods fell and the citizens rushed to convert to Christianity. An extraordinary border of rich jewelry surrounds the scene and contrasts with the rustic charm of the main episode.