Russian icon | Nativity

Icon: Nativity B-14

Central-Russia, 17th century
Tempera on panel, 32 x 27 cm

Christie’s London, June 21, 1977, Lot 38
Private collection, United Kingdom
Morsink Icon Gallery, Amsterdam
ALR Ref. No.: S00153434

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At the centre, the new born Christ Child lies swaddled in a cave, immediately behind are an ox and a small white horse. The Mother of God is lying on a red cushion in front of the cave. To the left, the Three Wise Men are presenting their gifts. In the upper left corner an angel is looking down and pointing to the star of Bethlehem with her left hand. An angel in the upper right corner is bringing the good news to a shepherd in the fields. In the lower left corner, Joseph sits deeply in thought, his head bowed. The old man wearing a sheepskin in front of him is open to several interpretations. He is sometimes interpreted as the devil disguised as a shepherd, casting doubt in Joseph's puzzled mind. He is also seen as the Prophet Isaiah, who reminds Joseph of his prophecy (Isaiah 7, 14) where he tells that a virgin shall conceive and give birth to a child. To the right, the naked Christ Child receives his first bath.