Mary and Joseph, four angels, and an ass and an ox cluster in a tight circle around the tiny Christ Child. They block the view of two shepherds, who lean out from behind a column to get a glimpse of the child. Two angels above complete the group of adorers, all eager to pay homage to the newborn child.

The Roman ruins chosen as the site for the Nativity probably symbolically highlight the transition from the classical to the Christian world that occurred with the birth of Christ.


  • Title: The Nativity
  • Creator: Simon Bening
  • Date Created: about 1525–1530
  • Location Created: Bruges, Belgium
  • Physical Dimensions: Leaf: 16.8 × 11.4 cm (6 5/8 × 4 1/2 in.)
  • Type: Folio
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Tempera colors, gold paint, and gold leaf on parchment
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 83.ML.115.19v
  • Culture: Flemish
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. Ludwig IX 19, fol. 19v
  • Creator Display Name: Simon Bening (Flemish, about 1483 - 1561)
  • Classification: Manuscripts (Documents)

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