The Nativity story with which we are most famiar and which has the longest narrative is found in Luke. He tells us that before the birth of Jesus, an angel appeared to Zacharias to announce that he and his wife, who were childless, would have a child who would “go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Luke 1:5-22.
Angel Appearing to Zacharias GHIRLANDAIO (1486-90)
See http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/g/ghirland/domenico/6tornab/62tornab/1appear.html for the source of the above photograph of the painting and a description.
El Greco painted several versions of the annunciation to Mary. Luke 1:26-38.
Annunciation EL GRECO (1595-1600)
See http://www.artbible.net/3JC/-Luk-01,26_Annunciation_L%20Annonce%20a%20Marie/slides/16%20EL%20GRECO%20ANNUNCIATION.html the source of the above photograph of the painting and a description.
Here is another El Greco painting of the same subject with a different interpretation.
The Annunciation EL GRECO (1596-1600)
See http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/g/greco_el/12/1201grec.html for the source of the above photograph of the painting and a description. You will notice a common characteristic of El Greco’s mature style in the two paintings, above: elongated human figures associated by many with a spiritual rendering.
Matthew 1:18-23 tells us that Joseph was considering what he should do since his bride-to-be was pregnant, and that an angel appeared to him to tell him not to worry about it, because she was impregnated by the Holy Spirit.
Luke 2 tells us of the stable scene, “because there was no room for them in the inn.”
The Nativity MASTER of Flémalle (ca. 1375-1444)
See http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/m/master/flemalle/nativity/nativi_.html for the source of the above photograph of the painting and a description.
Nativity BELLINI (c. 1445)
See http://www.backtoclassics.com/images/pics/jacopobellini/jacopobellini_nativity.jpg for the source of the above photograph of the etching. You will notice that Bellini uses the nativity scene as an opportunity to practice what was, for him, the rather recently developed technique of perspective.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nativity_of_Jesus_in_art for other artistic interpretations of the nativity from several different periods.
Luke 2:8-15 tells of the angels announcement to the shepherds.
The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds REMBRANDT (1606–1669)
See http://collegerelations.vassar.edu/2006/2103/ for the source of the above photograph of the etching.
In the next post we will explore more nativity paintings.
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