According to some authorities, the Holy Family sojourned in Egypt during a period of seven years, but others assert that they returned to Judea at the end of two years.
In general, the painters have expressed the Return from Egypt by exhibiting Jesus as no longer an infant sustained in his mother’s arms, but as a boy walking at her side. In a picture by Francesco Vanni [church of S. Quirico, Siena], he is a boy about two or three years old, and carries a little basket full of carpenter’s tools. The occasion of the Flight and Return is indicated by three or four of the martyred Innocents, who are lying on the ground. In a picture by Domenico Feti [Belvedere, Vienna], two of the Innocents are lying dead on the roadside. In a very graceful, animated picture by Rubens, Mary and Joseph lead the young Christ between them, and the Virgin wears a large straw hat. [Formerly at Blenheim; sold in 1886 to Murray.]