The Nativity

1160s-1170s
Mosaic
Palatine Chapel, Palermo, Sicily

The mosaic includes all the elements favored in Orthodox Nativities of the period. In the center an angel shows us Mary as she moves the baby to the stable from the cave in the mountain that refers to Isaiah 33:16 (Septuagint only). The other figures are arranged in a circle around this central grouping. Clockwise from bottom left: St. Joseph with his hand to his cheek, the Magi and their angels, the star that guides them, the angel announcing to the shepherds, the shepherds with their gifts, and the midwives bathing the child.

There is a similar arrangement of the figures in Duccio's Nativity of 1308.

This image in full resolution
More of the Nativity

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