Nativity of Jesus in art  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Nativity of Jesus has been a major subject of Christian art since the 4th century. The artistic depictions of the Nativity or birth of Jesus, celebrated at Christmas, are based on the narratives in the Bible, in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and further elaborated by written, oral and artistic tradition. Christian art includes a great many representations of the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child. Such works are generally referred to as the "Madonna and Child" or "Virgin and Child". They are not usually representations of the Nativity specifically, but are often devotional objects representing a particular aspect or attribute of the Virgin Mary, or Jesus. Nativity pictures, on the other hand, are specifically illustrative, and include many narrative details.

The Nativity has been depicted in many different media, both pictorial and sculptural. Pictorial forms include murals, panel paintings, manuscript illuminations, stained glass windows and oil paintings. The subject of the Nativity is often used for altarpieces, many of these combining both painted and sculptural elements. Other sculptural representations of the Nativity include ivory miniatures, carved stone sarcophagi, architectural features such as capitals and door lintels, and free standing sculptures.

Free-standing sculptures of the Nativity often take the form of a "Creche" or "Presepe", which is a tableau or Nativity scene that are usually temporary fixtures within a church, home, public place or natural setting. The scale of the figures may range from miniature to life-sized. These Nativity Scenes probably derived from acted tableau vivants in Rome, although Saint Francis of Assisi gave the tradition a great boost. This tradition continues to this day, with many small Nativity Scenes being made commercially from porcelain, plaster, plastic or cardboard for display in the home.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Nativity of Jesus in art" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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