Riposo durante la fuga in Egitto
1595-6 by Michelangelo Merisi Caravaggio
Galleria Doria Pamphilj
The Galleria Doria Pamphilj is one of the most intriguing galleries in Rome. Housed in the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj the collection is a cavernous haven of art, with paintings covering entire walls of the narrow galleries, hung barely centimetres from each other. Riposo durante la fuga in Egitto (Rest during the flight to Egypt) is one of Caravaggio’s early works, though the Madonna betrays unmistakable signs of his coming style with the cylindrical face, full of expression in its glowing and perfect complexion. The intimacy of the characters is touching; they seem to encircle one another as they stand symmetrically, the angel in the centre with her back to us and the others face on sitting down. This quietly touching atmosphere, accompanied by the richness of colour – from the Madonna’s crimson dress to the dilutions of dusky blue in the angel wings – gives this painting an element of poignant realism. Flesh is illuminated in light and the detail surrounding is crisp, encapsulating the figures and holding this group of importance in the world.