Birth of Christ

ca. 1525/30

Mixed technique on limewood
Inv. No. 1183

91.5 × 55.2 cm

zur  Biographie

In this nocturne, Baldung reduced the Biblical description to the bare necessities and placed the Birth of Christ in the context of the Passion. Wearing an expression of suffering, the astonishingly adult-like child gathers his swaddling clothes in the form of a loincloth. In the manner known from the “Man of Sorrows with Angels” motif, an angel supports him as if already holding the crucified Christ’s corpse. Baldung took an unusually literal approach to the visions of St. Birgitta of Sweden, which describe a supernatural light emanating from the newborn: the bright glow blinds Joseph and the angel, but not the Virgin, who recognizes the Messiah in her son and prays to him.

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