NATIVITY WITH THE ADORATION OF THE CHRISTCHILD, ILLUMINATED MINIATURE ON VELLUM IN A GESSOED 'GOTHIC' FRAME
[England, 19th century]
183 x 130mm. An arch-topped miniature with Joseph and the Virgin kneeling to either side of the naked, smiling Christchild lying on the ground, behind the Virgin a stable with the ox and ass, in the background a shepherd by a fire looks up towards a row of angels who carry a scroll announcing the birth of Christ, the miniature painted in two shades of blues, greens, brown and pink with gold highlighting, and surrounded by a border of curving stems with leaves of brown and naturalistically coloured flowerheads, a half-length figure of a lady in a wimple emerging from one leaf, all against a ground of gold-speckled grey; in a gilt mount with a trefoil cut-out and a gesso-covered, varnished wooden frame with a cusped gabled top decorated with a row of moulded trefoils, and flanked by two engaged columns with finials, the bottom of the frame decorated with a blind arcade (small loss from the gesso of the lower edge).
This extremely attractive ensemble, drawing together features of both Flemish and Italian painting of the 15th century, is a charming reflection of the 19th-century renewal of interest in 'pre-raphaelite' painting.