Birth of Christ
active on the Upper Rhine ca. 1500–1520 as a successor to Martin Schongauer
Mixed technique on oakwood
Inv. No. SG 444
38.3 × 23.8 cm
Martin Schongauer’s most gifted successor monogrammed his engravings with the initials BM and also left a handful of paintings to posterity. His Birth of Christ is one of the earliest depictions of Christmas Eve in a snowy landscape. The red shine of the evening sun in winter spreads across the frozen water. The shepherds have come in haste from the left to worship the Child. In the background, Joseph approaches through a narrow pass with two midwives whom, according to legend, he had gone to fetch. Since they arrive too late, one of them doubts the virgin birth of Christ, while the other accepts it as the truth. The doubting midwife is ultimately converted through a miracle.