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Prayer and Praise

Julia Margaret Cameron1865

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

This image recreates the scene of the Nativity, in which Christ's mother, the Virgin Mary, and her husband Joseph watch over the newborn, sleeping Christ child. Julia Margaret Cameron may have decided to include a fourth figure, the young girl at the left, to add pictorial balance to the composition. The girl may represent an angel, as her outstretched hand hovering above the infant's head appears to be a gesture of blessing. The sleeping child's peaceful repose is emphasized by the contemplative silence of the surrounding figures. A spiritual calm is conveyed in the image by the adults' downcast eyes. Cameron powerfully evokes the mood of the Nativity scene through her careful, sensitive rendering of a sacred subject.

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