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12. A Gilded Nativity

Painted on wood, but generously gilded, this early 15th century Florentine nativity painting mixes ornate adornments with a somewhat ordinary looking stable scene. Mary and Joseph wear simple attire, save for the golden trims and the Late Gothic/Early Italian Renaissance-style halos. Curiously, the Christ Child wears only a halo and is placed outside the manger on the bare ground. Livestock look upon the event. In the distance (at the far right), the shepherds fairly swoon over the angel’s appearing. Throughout the scene, the only light seems to come from the golden accents.

This work of nativity art may have been created to serve as the front of a church altar.

The Nativity, by Piero di Giovanni, c1400

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