This engraving by Heinrich Guttenberg after Federico Barocci’s “Rest on the Flight into Egypt,” also known as the “Madonna delle Ciliegie,” is a rich interpretation of the original work. Guttenberg, working in the late 18th century, demonstrates a masterful command of the engraving medium, capturing the delicate nuances of Barocci’s Mannerist style.

Rest on the Flight into Egypt

Barocci’s original painting is renowned for its warm color palette and the soft, tender expressions of its figures, all of which Guttenberg has translated into the monochromatic but deeply expressive language of engraving. This piece illustrates the Holy Family during their flight to Egypt, a moment of rest and respite from their arduous journey. The Madonna is depicted with a serene, contemplative expression, providing a sense of calm amidst the uncertainty of their flight.

Rest on the Flight into Egypt

Fruits of paradise

The composition of the piece is dynamic yet harmonious, with each figure positioned to guide the viewer’s eye throughout the scene. The angel offering cherries to the Christ Child adds a layer of symbolic meaning, as cherries are often associated with the fruits of paradise and the sweetness of the Virgin Mary’s virtues. Additionally, the inclusion of Joseph and the donkey in the background provides a narrative context, grounding the scene in the biblical story.

Guttenberg’s technical skill is evident in the intricate details of the figures’ drapery, the foliage of the trees, and the textures of the landscape. The cross-hatching and stippling techniques give a sense of depth and volume, showing Guttenberg’s ability to adapt Barocci’s use of chiaroscuro to the demands of printmaking.

Emotional resonance of Barocci’s work

What is particularly striking about this engraving is the way Guttenberg preserves the emotional resonance of Barocci’s work. Despite the absence of color, there is a warmth and intimacy conveyed through the careful arrangement of light and shadow, and the engaging expressions of the figures.

In terms of its historical and artistic value, the engraving stands as a tribute not only to Barocci’s original composition but also to the tradition of printmaking as a means of disseminating and preserving the great works of art. It underscores the role of engravers like Guttenberg in the transmission of cultural and artistic heritage, offering insights into the way artworks were shared and experienced in the era before photographic reproduction.


  • Size (h w): 26.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Medium: Etching

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