The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Nativity with the Adoration of the Shepherds and Magi

Object Details


The Nativity with the Adoration of the Shepherds and Magi


Mesrop of Khizan (Armenian, active 1605 - 1651)




Isfahan, Persia (Place Created)




Tempera colors and gold

Object Number:

Ms. 118 (2019.129)


Leaf: 23 × 16 cm (9 1/16 × 6 5/16 in.)

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Object Description

This illuminated leaf shows a painting of the Nativity of Christ.  Three separate episodes connected to the story are set within a frame of colorful interlacing designs. As a trio of angels beholds the scene from the upper right, the heavens emit a ray of blue light toward the Christ child, who is held by the reclining Virgin Mary. Joseph rests his hand on his face next to a shepherd, who plays a flute for two small animals, while the ox and ass watch from above. At the right, the three magi offer their gifts. The painting’s dynamic shapes and vibrant colors form an interlocking composition of unusually great energy and vitality.

The leaf was once part of the illustrated prefatory cycle of a Gospel book that was made in 1615 in Isfahan, Persia, and illustrated by the famous Armenian artist, Mesrop of Khizan, and that now belongs to the Getty. The manuscript’s prefatory images were removed over fifty years before it came to the Getty Museum. This leaf was acquired later, and its connection to the manuscript is affirmed by photographs taken before the book was dismembered. The museum holds a second leaf from the same manuscript, this one with an image of the Baptism of Christ.


Avédissian, Onnig, Peintres et sculpteurs arméniens : Du 19ème siècle à nos jours, précédé d’un aperçu sur l’art ancien, Le Caire, 1959, pp. 97-99.

Macler, Frédéric. (1913). Notices manuscrits arméniens vus dans quelques bibliothèques de l'Europe centrale (Vol. II). Paris: Imprimerie nationale, pp. 643-651.

Macler, Frédéric. Miniatures Arméniennes: Vies du Christ, Peintures ornamentales (Xe aux XVIIe siècle), Paris, 1913, fig. 82.

Der Nersessian, Sirarpie,  The Chester Beatty Library: a catalogue of the Armenian manuscripts, 1958, Dublin, pp. 88-90, no. 573.

Arakelyan, Mikayel , Mesrop de Xizan: An Armenian Master of the Seventeenth Century, Londres, Sam Fogg Ltd éd., 2012, pp.143-144.