Cento 1637-Bologna 1688
Rest during the flight into Egypt
oil on canvas, 129×101 cm
As Emilio Negro observes in his description of this painting, it is the influence of Guercino that dominates in this canvas, featuring the episode mentioned in the Gospels of how the Holy Family rested during their flight from Herod’s cruel intentions (Matthew, 2, 13-15). This motif was very popular in the Seventeenth century, because it combined a religious subject with beautiful natural sceneries. A charming anecdote appears in the upper left area of the canvas: it features angels who are picking fruits from a palm, the latter evidently alluding to Egypt, where the event took place.
Negro attributes this work to the nephew of the master from Cento, namely Cesare Gennari, “one of the greatest talents who received the prestigious lessons” of his uncle Barbieri, from whom he, along with his brother Benedetto, was to inherit “all his properties and atelier” on his death.
More specifically, the scholar suggests a comparison with paintings as Reading Madonna with Child in a private Bolognese collection and Madonna who is nursing the Child of the Musée Hippolyte de Parieu at Aurillac (see N. Roio, Cesare Gennari in La scuola del Guercino, edited by E. Negro, M. Pirondini, N. Roio, Modena, 2004, figures 355-356), in which one finds “a kind of fluid and soft brushwork that evokes that of Guercino, but with very individual traits” that is quite similar to that characterizing the painting presented here.