Looking Closely at Rest on the Flight into Egypt, an Early 16th-Century Flemish Tapestry
From the late 15th through the 17th centuries, Flanders (made up of parts of present-day France, Belgium, and the Netherlands) was a major center of tapestry production. These sumptuous weavings were typically more expensive than paintings—the cost of materials and the months of labor required for their production made tapestries a status symbol demanded by important patrons like Pope Leo X, Henry VIII of England and François I of France.
Rest on the Flight into Egypt, purchased by Helen Clay Frick in 1969, specifically for display in the rotunda of The Frick Art Museum in Pittsburgh is a splendid example of the work of these skilled Flemish artisans. Wool, silk, and silver and gold wrapped threads are intricately woven to create an exceptionally detailed and naturalistically rendered scene—it is an astonishing artistic feat, and one at which Flemish Renaissance weavers were unequaled.