The NativityThe Nativity brings together Mary, Joseph, the Christ Child, the Shepherds, the Angels and, on Epiphany, the Wise Men. Representations of the birth of Christ proliferated from the IVth century, particularly in books like Psalters which were used during the liturgy.
There are two traditions of iconographic representation of the Nativity.
|The Western tradition sees the conception and birth of Jesus as divine events: Mary is virginal and because she
was not subject to the curse of the daughters of Eve, did not suffer during labour. This is why she is depicted
seated, holding the Infant Jesus on her lap.
At the end of the XIVth century, under the influence of Italian artists, the Virgin is represented on her knees in a posture of adoration.
|The Eastern tradition, on the other hand, emphasizes the reality of the incarnation of Jesus and his human birth: Mary, having just given birth, is pictured lying down.|
The iconography of the Nativity also includes the tidings of good news to the Shepherds, the homage of the Wise Men and other elements.