24 November 2008,
London, King Street
Price Realised GBP 229,250
AN IMPORTANT ICON OF THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST
The main event of the composition, the Birth of Christ, surrounded by a number of related episodes; the rocky cliffs functioning as natural dividers between the scenes; the serpentine figure of the Mother of God reclining on a couch placed on a barren plateau, gazing at the onlooker while turning her back to the swaddled Child in the sarcophagus-shaped manger; at the mouth of the grotto, against its dark interior, the ox and ass warming the Infant with their breath; to the far left the Three Magi on horseback, wearing distinct Phrygian caps, pointing to the star issuing forth from the heavenly segment at the top of the image; a group of angels to the left of the central mount directing the viewer's attention to the star, opposite a second assembly of angels with veiled hands leaning forward in veneration of the Child; to the right another angel blessing the shepherds while delivering the Divine news; the same two shepherds shown again in the foreground conveying the angel's message to St. Joseph, the latter portrayed in a pensive mood; between the two appearances of the shepherds, a shepherd-boy with a short tunic, seated on a low rock playing the flute; to his back a flock munching the tree-leaves, some sheep at the lower right watering themselves and a sheepdog sleeping adjacently; the lower left side illustrating the Infant's first bath, with one maid pouring water into the basin and the other holding Christ; the saturated and bright colours of the figures accentuated by white or gold brushstrokes, standing out against the muted, pastel tones of the landscape and the gold skies of the rhythmically structured composition
16 x 13 7/8 in. (40.7 x 35.3 cm)
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An icon with the same iconography but of bigger dimensions was sold at Christie's in 1995 (see comparative image).
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium
German Private Collection, since the 1960s.
German Private Collection, since the 1960s