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Gerard David’s The Rest on the Flight into Egypt

Lisa Duffy-Zeballos, PhD
Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2007;9(6):456-457. doi:10.1001/archfaci.9.6.456.
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Gerard David (1460–ca 1523) was one of the leading painters in the city of Bruges, Belgium, which flourished as a banking center and the leading Flemish port for the international cloth trade. During the late Middle Ages, Bruges's prosperity also attracted many foreign artists eager to capitalize on the rich patronage offered by the ruling Dukes of Burgundy and by the city's wealthy merchant class. David moved to Bruges from Holland sometime before 1484, when he was cited as a master in the local painters' guild. Three years later he received an important commission from the city magistrates to paint a diptych on the Judgment of Cambyses (Groeninge Museum, Bruges) for the aldermen's chambers of the town hall. The narrative derives from Herodotus's account of the arrest and flaying of the corrupt judge Sisamnes and provides a terrible lesson for those who wield political power. However, the Judgment of Cambyses remains one of David's few civic commissions; most of his prolific output was for public religious altarpieces and small paintings for private devotion.

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Gerard David (1460–ca 1523). Rest on the Flight into Egypt, ca 1510. Oil on panel, 16½ × 16⅝ in. Andrew W. Mellon Collection, image courtesy of the Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

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