The Nativity
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Simon Bening
Flemish, Bruges, about 1525 - 1530
Tempera colors, gold paint, gold leaf, and ink on parchment
6 5/8 x 4 1/2 in.

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Mary and Joseph, four angels, and an ass and an ox cluster in a tight circle around the tiny Christ Child. They block the view of two shepherds, who lean out from behind a column to get a glimpse of the child. Two angels above complete the group of adorers, all eager to pay homage to the newborn child.

The Roman ruins chosen as the site for the Nativity probably symbolically highlight the transition from the classical to the Christian world that occurred with the birth of Christ.