The Nativity

Limoges, first quarter of 13th century
Copper champlevé enameled and gilded
Musée National de l'Age Médiévale, Paris

This Nativity retains much of the iconography of the older images. The Virgin Mary lies horizontal and quite separate from the swaddled Christ Child, who is also and horizontal in his manger, attended by the ox and ass. St. Joseph holds the staff that was also standard in the older pattern.

Other details diverge from the usual by suggesting church architecture and furniture. Joseph stands before what one can only read as an altar. The manger is supported by a structure like a stylized church, built of stone and with three slender windows. The legs of Mary's couch look like candlesticks, and the bedclothes drape down in the manner of a curtain, like the curtain of the Jerusalem Temple with which she is associated in the apocrypha.

Read more about images of the Nativity.

Photographed at the museum by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.