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NATIVITY AT MIDNIGHT
HOLIDAY SPIRIT IN ART
And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you; you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.
Luke 2: 8-12
Northern Renaissance painter Geertgen tot Sint Jans (translated “little Gerard of Saint John”) may have died before his 30th birthday in what is now the Netherlands, but during his brief lifespan (c. l1465-1495), he produced works that have endured over the centuries. The artist’s Nativity at Night, for instance, is recognized by scholars to be one of the first nocturnal representations of the Christ child’s birth. For the work is illuminated by a supernatural glow, emanating from the newborn Jesus, that miraculously reveals the ethereal presence of Mary and her angelic companions. While, in contrast, the figures of Joseph, the animals, and even the shepherds in the background are barely discernible in the shadows.
A source for this blog is the website of the National Gallery of Art, London.
The above image is used solely for educational purposes.
Explore the paintings of two other masters from the Netherlands, Rembrandt and Vermeer, in Through an Artist’s Eyes: Learning to Live Creatively.