Paolo Veronese, Rest on the Flight into Egypt, a drawing

Italy, around AD 1565-70

The Holy Family at rest

The subject of this drawing by Veronese (1528-1588), is the traditional one of the Holy Family resting on their flight from Bethlehem to Egypt. The Virgin Mary is seated, preparing to feed the twisting Christ Child in her arms. To the right is the standing figure of St Joseph and to the left the laden horse feeding on hay. Behind are the branches of a palm tree and a rocky outcrop.

The outlines of the composition are drawn in pen and brown ink on the grey prepared paper. The forms of the figures are defined by the vivid white heightening, especially on the central and most important figures of the Virgin and Child. The artist has used the white in a 'painterly' fashion; brushing it on with a breadth and depth that make the composition seem closer to a painting than a drawing. Yet the white lines of the hay and the hatching on the Virgin's face and right hand also reveal a delicacy of touch.

As a balanced composition in chiaroscuro (light and shade), this beautiful drawing was much admired by painters who also collected Old Master drawings. It was copied by Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), and owned by Sir Peter Lely (1618-80), and later by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), both notable English portrait painters.

Find in the collection online

More information


R.W. Rearick, The art of Paolo Veronese 1528 (National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 1988-9)

R. Cocke, Veroneses drawings (London, Sotheby Publications, 1984)


Height: 316.000 mm
Width: 239.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1854-6-28-4



Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore