Baciccio made his name in his youth as a portrait painter before leaving Genoa for Rome. With the encouragement of Bernini he became a daring Baroque ceiling decorator. Mary and Joseph with the Christ child fled Bethlehem when Herod ordered all boys under two years of age to be killed. This depiction of the mother and child resting on the flight to Egypt predicts the pieta, a later scene in the life of Christ in which the dead body of Christ lies across the lap of his mother. Joseph unsaddles the donkey in the background where the broad landscape emphasises a sense of serenity.