At first sight it looks as if the Holy Family have mistaken their destination and are heading not for Egypt but Paradise – the pastoral section of the scene being an invocation of the Garden of Eden before the explusion. Or maybe the subject was changed mid-way, with the Holy Family inexplicably taking the place of sorrowing Adam and Eve. Or is the contrast carefully planned for a purpose no longer apparent?
Whether intentional or inept, Titian's improbable juxtaposition and naïve composition are to modern eyes very appealing, evoking the surprise that would have greeted the naturalism in early Renaissance painting, from viewers accustomed (as we are too) to over-conventional renderings of sacred scenes. Proportions and placings may be awry, but one's imagination responds. Perhaps the holiness of the Family makes everywhere they tread Elysian.