Scuola Marchigiana, The Nativity

Circa 1450
Tempera and gold on wood panel
Pinacoteca Vaticana, Rome

The stable frames the primary scene, which combines a Brigittine mother and child with a pensive Joseph so old that he has to sit in a chair. Both the inner and outer scenes are crowded with the conventional figures – the ox and ass, the angel and shepherds, the magi and their camels, the midwife with her basin awaiting a serving woman who is to bring her water from a flowing stream, and even a visitor with a parasol about to cross the stream.

Touches of contemporary style include the palazzo-like architecture and the clothing of the visitor and serving women. Unusually, the Star of Bethlehem in the upper right corner is pictured as a blazing sun.

One shepherd is pictured has his back turned, as if unmoved by the angel's announcement. Compare the solitary shepherd piping to his sheep in Antonio Romano's Nativity of the same period.

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More of the Nativity

Photographed at the Pinacoteca Vaticana by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.