This moving terracotta sculpture represents a Virgin of the Nativity. Marie is kneeling, hands crossed on the chest, the eyelids half closed. Her juvenile face is surrounded by wavy hair hidden under an elegant veil. The position of her head, slightly tilted forward, and the softness of her maternal gaze suggests that the Virgin was meditated before her son, Christ, lying at her knees, in the straw.
Accompanied in the past by other characters, this statuette was part of a larger ensemble, a crib, representing the Nativity in three dimensions, in front of a cave, a stable or, according to Neapolitan tradition, in front of the ruins of a Roman temple symbolizing the end of the pagan world and the advent of Christianity.
From the 13th century, this type of representation developed as live performance in the face of the resounding success of a famous staging orchestrated by Saint Francis of Assisi himself, in Greccio in Italy, on Christmas night 1223. It was at the end of the XVIth century that the Jesuits, "aware of the power of the celebration of the nativity, multiplied all over Christendom the cribs in reduced models, using them as a catechesis in the context of the counter-reform" . Very beautiful examples of the genre are however made from the 13th century as evidenced by the famous crib of Arnolfo de Cambio, carved in stone in 1288 and today exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. At the beginning of the 16th century, great artists like Pietro Alemmano and even Pietro Belverte specialized in the creation of wooden crib figurines which are very appreciated by collectors. At the same time, throughout Italy there is a significant equivalent production of terracotta, from which our Virgin came. Her soft style brings her closer to the famous marble bas-relief by Antonio Rossellino representing the Nativity and today in the Piccolomini chapel of the Sant'Anna dei Lombardi church in Napoli.
Provenance : Former Boccador collection
28 000 €