Federico Fiori Barocci, Nativity (1597, oil on canvas, 134 x 105 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid)

In Barocci's Nativity, the luminous lustre of the light (sfumato), the charm of the figures, and the colour scheme intensify the sentimental effect. Joseph points out the Child to the shepherds, who appear behind the half-open door, along a diagonal line running from the dark background to the light foreground with its group of mother and Child. The Child is the source of light. Mary gazes lovingly at her new-born Child, holding her arms open in a manner typical of Mannerist paintings. The physical distance between mother and Child is bridged by characteristic intimacy. While Mary in her gold- and pink-coloured dress radiates warmth and actively takes a step towards the Child, the weakness and passiveness of the Child is underscored by its blue maphorion. The loaf of bread in the wicker basket, and the corn of wheat and the millstone, are symbols of Christ and the Eucharist. As usual, Chist's Nativity anticipates his Passion. The sun disc on the ox's harness refers to Christ as the new sun (sol novus).




Back to "The Metaphysicals"