500 Years of Nativities

Post by Marketing Intern Alisse Frandsen

Scenes of the Savior s Nativity are an important symbol of the Christmas season. Nativities of all shapes and sizes—from the tiny plastic set on the mantle to the life-sized Nativity scene in downtown Salt Lake City —help us remember to be grateful for Christ s birth and life here on Earth. The BYU Museum of Art has a unique collection of nativity scenes that spans the centuries.



1524: Hans Springinklee s Nativity
Springinklee was a German artist who studied under Albrecht Dürer. During his career, he created woodcuts for Emperor Maximiliam I and illustrated several bibles and prayer books. This particular woodcut was included in one such bible. The Latin phrase at the bottom alludes to the light Christ brings to the world: “Oh immense chaos and noble highness, my son, who may be able to contemplate the beauty of your radiance,”

Hans Springinklee (1490/95-ca.1540), Nativity, 1524 ca., woodcut, 9 3/8 x 7 1/2 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1937.



17th Century: Nativity after Pietro Berrettini da Cortona
This Baroque-style nativity is a unique scene, showing Mary being attended to by several other women. One of her attendants is taking care of the baby Jesus, giving Mary a well-needed rest.

Anonymous-Europe, The Nativity, 17th century, etching, 9 1/2 x 7 1/8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1937.

nativity-bloch1881: Carl Bloch s Nativity
This etching is a beautiful example of Bloch s talent for portraying the subtleties of light. He highlights Mary and her Child in a traditional stable scene as the shepherds discover them.

Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890), The Nativity, 1881, etching, 6 5/16 x 8 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1950.


2006: Brian Kershisnik s Nativity
With a unique perspective on the Nativity scene, Kershisnik shows a river of angels flowing over a relieved Joseph and reverent Mary. The idea for this painting came from a tiny sketch Kershisnik jotted down into a pocket notebook.

Brian Kershisnik, (b.1962), Nativity, 2006, etching, 89 x 204 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 2007.