Flight into Egypt, 1627 by Rembrandt

In common with many other artists, Rembrandt depicted the Holy Family more often than any other biblical theme, though the way in which he did so was anything but traditional. In none of these are they formally posed and presented for our attention or devotion. Instead, they are invariably shown as otherwise engaged and often more active than usual, going about their daily lives as much like an ordinary family as the one from sacred scripture.

More than two dozen of these works survive, including no fewer than eight etchings, two paintings and several drawings depicting the Flight into Egypt, with the remaining works showing the Holy Family in an interior.

Flight into Egypt is not in measured in transit but in urgent flight, the Virgin clutching the Christ child as she gazes anxiously around, as thought fearing pursuit. While their pace has slowed somewhat in the artist's earlier painting of this scene, Rembrandt imbues even this with furtive atmosphere unbeknown to his predecessors by showing all three members of the family facing in different drection.