The Nativity

Object Details

Title:

The Nativity

Artist/Maker(s):

Jean Bourdichon (French, 1457 - 1521, active Tours, France, early 1480s - 1521)

Culture:

French

Place(s):

Tours, France (Place created)

Date:

about 1480 - 1485

Medium:

Tempera colors, gold, and ink on parchment

Dimensions:

Leaf: 16.4 x 11.6 cm (6 7/16 x 4 9/16 in.)

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Jean Bourdichon followed the venerable tradition of using sumptuous gold, combining it with an interest in representing the natural world. He painted gold stars against the deep blue night sky and gold rays piercing through the roof of the manger and extending to the infant. From the child emanate more golden rays that light up the interior of the building and illuminate the figures of Mary and Joseph, reflected as highlights on their clothing. Bourdichon carefully observed how light acts in the physical world, but he also endowed that light with a spiritual quality, indicating its heavenly origin.

The miniature accompanies a verse from Psalm 69, which opens the prayers for Prime--as well as other hours--in the Hours of the Virgin: Deus in adiutorium meum intende. Domine ad adiuvandum me festina(God, come to my assistance. Lord, make haste to help me).

Related Works
Exhibitions
Illuminating Color (May 22 to August 26, 2001)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), May 22 to August 26, 2001
A Masterpiece Reconstructed: The Hours of Louis XII (October 18, 2005 to May 1, 2006)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), October 18, 2005 to January 8, 2006
Radiant Darkness: The Art of Nocturnal Light (April 24 to July 22, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles)