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Nativity in Western Painting

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Nativity in Western Painting

  1. 1. “And she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him and laid him in a manger, for there was no room for them in the common room.” Luke. II, 7
  2. 2. Pictures of the Nativity, the first night of Christ’s life on earth, tend to emphasize the fragility of the infant and the wonder felt by those who first witnessed his coming. The child is usually centrally positioned, and the Virgin is shown in loving contemplation. Ox and donkey, two animals mentioned in Isaiah’s prophecy about the Messiah (Isaiah 1:3), usually appear near the baby. Joseph didn’t become a consistent part of the nativity scene until the 6th century. A picture may show Mary and Joseph alone with the Christ Child, but more often the holy family is joined by the shepherds who were the first to worship him on earth.
  3. 3. Nativity in Western Painting
  4. 4. a prototype for centuries of subsequent paintings … a humble shed set into rock, the Holy Family, Joseph in his usual thoughtful attitude, sitting outside the grotto; animals ox, ass, sheep, two midwives bathing the Child (probably Salome and Zelomi), shepherds, angels Duccio di Buoninsegna The Nativity with the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel Nativité entourée des prophètes Isaïe et Ézéchiel 1308-1311 National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
  5. 5. a rather ramshackle wooden stable, the Virgin is kneeling, her hands held out in a gesture of adoration, the Christ Child lies on the bare earth, radiant with light; the ox and the ass, untypically for such a composition, have turned their backs on the newborn infant, rather than drawing near to warm him with their breath; Joseph, who had been a figure of mockery throughout the Middle Ages, is here presented as a venerable old man, he holds a candle; two midwives who were summoned by Joseph in a moment of anxiety, three shepherds, seemingly prevented from approaching any closer by awe and respect, four angels they are holding phylacteries, a extended landscape Robert Campin La Nativité The Nativity 1415-1430 Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon
  6. 6. two stone pillars and an archway, statues of Adam and Eve, in relief six scenes from the Book of Genesis; the infant Jesus naked, resting on the ground in front of the Virgin Mary, a balding and bearded Joseph with his walking stick; the ox and ass, kneeling in adoration four small angels, four shepherds in contemporary 15th-century clothing are chatting amiably; a small hill, a Netherlandish town with two domed structures in its center, symbolizing Jerusalem and Christ's Passion Petrus Christus The Nativity Nativité 1445-1450 The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
  7. 7. the stable is a half-ruined thatched Romanesque building, rather than the traditional wooden hut Mary is wearing a light blue, Joseph in a red gown holds a lighted candle, donor in black clothes; an angel announcing the birth of Jesus, a city with a road, walls and towers Rogier van der Weyden Bladelin Triptych, Nativity central panel Triptyque Bladelin, Nativité panneau central 1446 Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen, Berlin
  8. 8. a scene of great tenderness and reverence, the divine glow from the Christ Child is a pocket of light in the darkness, creating a sense of intimacy and awe the infant Christ, lying in the manger, is watched over by Mary, Joseph and adoring angels, an ox and donkey peer out of the darkness behind; the shepherds and their sheep up on the hills huddled around a fire, and gaze up in awe at the shining angel in the sky above them Geertgen tot Sint Jans Nativity at Night Nativité de nuit 1490 The National Gallery, London
  9. 9. the Nativity in a traditional, though especially intimate, manner … the Virgin kneels humbly as she gazes at the Christ Child, Joseph assumes a pose of restrained wonderment, as if suddenly aware of the infant’s divine nature; angels, and a wonderful landscape background Fra Bartolomeo The Nativity La nativité 1504-1507 Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
  10. 10. the golden dome of heaven has opened up and is circled by 12 angels holding olive branches entwined, the infant Christ reaches up towards the Virgin Mary, oblivious of his visitors, three pairs of angels and men embrace, among their feet demons scuttle for shelter in the underworld through cracks in the rocks Sandro Botticelli Mystic Nativity La Nativité mystique 1500 The National Gallery, London
  11. 11. a traditional theme Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus, three angels overhead and a crucifix (concentrating in one image the initial (the Nativity) and final (the Crucifixion) moment of the Redemption seems to derive from Venetian ideas) Lorenzo Lotto The Nativity La Nativité 1523 National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.
  12. 12. the miraculous nature of the birth of Jesus .... Joseph supports a swooning Mary, Jesus hovers above the manger, he is received by Mary's cousin, Saint Elizabeth, whose own child, John the Baptist, rests in her lap the traditional ox and ass, a cross glows in the window as if reflected in the light of the star of Bethlehem the infant Jesus' outstretched arms prefigure his Crucifixion William Blake The Nativity Nativité 1799-1800 Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
  13. 13. Gauguin’s version of the Christian Nativity … a Mary lying on her decorated bed, seeming exhausted; the divine child relegated to the background, the only reference to the sacred, the yellow halo around his head; two women watch over the newborn baby, one is an angel with green wings, symbol of hope; in the background, a reference to the Biblical story of Christ’s birth in a manger Paul Gauguin Te Tamari no Atua The Son of God Le fils de Dieu 1896 Neue Pinakothek, Munich
  14. 14. Mary reclining outdoors on a rustic bed that resembles a bier with her newborn son, Jesus, both wrapped in shroud-like garments ... Joseph, sits on the ground reading a manuscript in Gothic script, three angels stand to the side holding symbols of the passion: a crown of thorns, a chalice, and a jar of myrrh, a traditional burial spice Edward Burne-Jones The Nativity La Nativité 1888 Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
  15. 15. Augustus Caesar sits in front of the Temple of Janus, surrounding him are scholars and statesmen and … the isolated group in the foreground, protected by an angel, represents Mary and Joseph adoring the Child Jesus ... Jean-Léon Gérôme The Age of Augustus, the Birth of Christ Le Siècle d'Auguste, naissance de N.S. Jésus-Christ 1852-1854 J. Paul Getty Museum
  16. 16. the Pre-Raphaelite Eleanor … a thoroughly contemporary look, apart from the Virgin Mary’s costume Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale The Nativity La nativité - Private collection
  17. 17. an unusual version of the Nativity ... the Virgin Mary dressed in white, the traditional blue has transferred from her clothing to the flaked paint of the ruins behind her Virginie Demont-Breton Alma Mater - Private collection
  18. 18. a Nabi artist and a thoroughly modern Nativity … the birth of Jesus takes place in a French town; a dodgy-looking couple are leaning out of their window; Joseph himself looks very French, but behind him are traditional ox and ass, and a small flock of sheep are watching from outside Maurice Denis Nativité Nativity 1894 Musée des Augustins de Toulouse, Toulouse
  19. 19. olga_oes Nativity in Western Painting Nativité dans la peinture occidentale images and text credit www. Music The Piano Guys What Child Is This (Piano & Electric Cello) created olga.e. thanks for watching

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