Thoma sets this scene of the Holy Family resting within a realistic representation of rural life. The religious imagery is understated. Instead of the divine intervention of an angel, a female figure brings food to the family. The solitary poses of Mary and Joseph suggest the couple’s isolation and weariness, endowing the image with a gravity appropriate to their situation. Thoma, who was famous for representing his native landscape, reflects the intimate bond between the land and its inhabitants.
This was his response to the widespread longing at the time for simple and sincere works of art.