Nativity of Christ

Iconography:  Nativity of Christ

Date: XVII century. The last quarter of the 17th c.

Origin: From the Trinity Convent in Murom

Material: Tempera

Dimensions:  height 31 cm, width 27 cm

At the top, against a cave, is the figure of the Mother of God sitting above the manger with the Infant Christ. Next to the Mother of God is the scene of the washing of the child. To the right of the cave are the angels worshipping the Child; below, on either side of Christ lying in the manger, are the figures of the shepherds listening to the angels announcing the Good News, and Joseph speaking to a shepherd. The story of the magicians following the Bethlehem star is depicted in great detail. The star itself is completely lost; according to the Gospel, it would have had to be above the cave, that is “above the place where the Infant was”. Below is the scene depicting the magicians worshipping the Infant Christ; the other side of the icon portrays the magicians returning into their own country another way after being warned by God in a dream that they shouldn’t return to Herod. The lower part of the composition depicts the scene of Herod talking to the Pharisees and scribes, the slaughter of the innocents and the killing of Zachariah, John the Baptist’s father. The scene of the slaughter of the innocents is closely associated with a symbolic image of Rachel lamenting her children and illustrating Jeremiah’s prophecy. In the same row, above the slaughter scene, is the scene of the flight of St. Catherine, mother of John the Baptist, to the desert, and a rarer scene of the rescue of the infant Nathaniel (Apostle Bartholomew) left under a fig-tree. The story of the rescue of Jesus Christ is represented in two Gospel episodes – The Appearance of the Angel to Joseph and The Flight to Egypt. They are placed symmetrically, against each other, at the side icon borders, thus making these two stories look more dramatic. A complex multi-figured composition of the icon is set against a hilly landscape, complemented by architectural details. On the borders are the traces of surviving inscriptions that commented, in accordance with iconographic traditions, the key episodes of the icon. 

Deposited in the Museum in 1930. Restored in 2002 at the Grabar Restoration Center by S.K.Sadikova 

  • General view