Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Nativity, Petrus Christus, 1450

This is my third post on our SBL tour of biblical themes in the National Gallery of Art Collections. (Click here for post # 1 and click here for post # 2.)

Here is another painting on the tour presenting the Creche, i.e., representing Christ's nativity in the stable at Bethlehem. It is by Petrus Christus, created 1450 ce. The clothes and countryside are Flemish and Netherlandish.

Nativity, Petrus Christus, 1450

What I love about this devotional piece is how clearly it places Advent in the context provided by the Old Testament. For example, the painting asks you to consider the Nativity in parallel with Moses' encounter with God at the burning bush. Thus, in the following detail-image, Joseph, like Moses, has removed his footwear:
detail image

Notice the figure of Adam in the right portion of the detail-image as well. He is heavily burdened by the weight of sin, which entered the world in the Genesis 3 story.

In fact, the sculpted archway framing the scene of the creche contains various depictions of the Genesis Fall, which Christ's Advent acts to reverse. Here is another detail-image, showing Adam and Eve banished from Eden due to the problem of sin.

detail image



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