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Nativity
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Gentile da Fabriano
Italian, about 1420 - 1422
Tempera and gold leaf on panel
28 1/2 x 16 3/4 in.
77.PB.27

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Several subjects coexist in this painting: the Madonna of Humility, the Nativity, and the Annunciation to the Shepherds. As the Madonna of Humility, the Virgin sits upon the ground, her hands folded in worship. Presenting the Nativity, a sleeping Saint Joseph is shown at the left and an ox and donkey can be seen in the stable at the right. In the distance, a night landscape depicts shepherds receiving word of Christ's birth. Gentile da Fabriano's Madonna has a monumental grandeur, but the naturalism of this depiction makes it more innovative than the more decorative versions he had painted before. Here, Gentile reduced the amount of gold leaf in the background and included a wider vista behind her, conveying a greater sense of depth.