Hidden treasures

The Nativity Scene in the Icon Museum in Venice

Unknown places & works

The Nativity Scene in the Icon Museum in Venice

The representations of the Nativity Scene in Western art are a classic theme tied to the wholly Italian tradition of the Nativity period.

Instead, in the Orthodox world there are totally unrelated items from our imagination. We could, however, visit the Museum of Icons of the Institute of Post-Byzantine Studies in Venice. Here several masterpieces are preserved, many of which were painted in Venice by Greek painters who fled here after the Turkish occupation after 1453.

Here one can admire a Nativity Scene of the second half of 1400s, which is far away from our art for both style and for the details in the picture. The Madonna in the centre, is in a kind of cocoon, sitting next to the child, warmed by the ox and the donkey. On the left, two shepherds are speaking with an angel, while further down, out of the main scene, Joseph is speaking with two travellers. The picture which is absolutely unrelated to our imagination is on the bottom left: two maids are taking care of the baby whilst preparing a bath for him.

This scene of the bath is taken from the apocryphal gospels, as well as the presence of the ox and the donkey, which instead, had more luck in our tradition!

If you are interested in this art so far yet so close to Venice you may visit the Icon Museum, which is open every day from 9am to 5pm.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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