December 19, 2017
Russian Icon, Nativity and Adoration of the Magi, c.1680, tempera on panel, 21 5/16 x 17 3/4 x 1 11/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of Richard B. and Nadene Oliver, 1975.
This Russian icon illustrates scenes from the Nativity, taken from the Gospels and apocryphal writings. Mary and Christ are shown in a jagged rock landscape, symbolizing the world as a hostile realm in need of redemption. Associated events of the Nativity surround the central scene. At the top, the Magi journey to worship the Christ Child. On the right, two heralding angels appear to a red-robed figure representing the humble Judean shepherds. To the left of the manger scene, the infant Christ is bathed, a traditional reminder of His humanity and condescension. At the bottom left, Joseph is confronted by a stooped old man representing the Devil, who tempts him with doubts about the virgin birth of Christ. At the right, the Magi present their gifts to the Holy Mother and her Child, who are seated on an ornate throne.