The Nativity

Object Details


The Nativity


Willem Vrelant (Flemish, died 1481, active 1454 - 1481)




Bruges, Belgium, Europe (Place created)


early 1460s


Tempera colors, gold leaf, and ink on parchment


Leaf: 25.6 × 17.3 cm (10 1/16 × 6 13/16 in.)

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Mary and Joseph along with four angels gather around the tiny baby Christ, who lies on a portion of the Virgin's robe. Details such as the presence of angels and Christ lying on the ground with rays of light shining from his body come from Saint Bridget's popular account of her vision of the Nativity from the 1300s. Saint Bridget further recounted that the light surrounding the baby completely outshone the candle Joseph had brought, as depicted in the image. From above, God and the dove of the Holy Spirit bless the event. A peaceful landscape featuring castles and delicate swans in the distance completes the scene. The Nativityaccompanies the prayers for Prime of the Hours of the Virgin.

Related Works
Illuminated Books of Hours (July 22 to October 3, 1986)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), July 22 to October 3, 1986
The Queen of the Angels (August 15 to November 5, 2000)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), August 15 to November 5, 2000