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Artwork of the Week

Artwork of the Week: December 8, 2019

Icon, Russia “Nativity and Adoration of the Magi

Russian Icon,

Nativity and Adoration of the Magi, c.1680, tempera on panel, 21 5/16 x 17 ¾ x 1 11/16 inches. Brigham young University Museum of Art, gift of Richard B. and Nadene Oliver, 1975.

This icon illustrates scenes from the Nativity, taken from the Gospels and apocryphal writings. In the center is Mary and a swaddled Christ Child laying in a manger. Associated events from the narrative surround the central motif. In the top left corner, the three Magi journey on horseback to pay homage to the Christ Child. The upper right corner depicts heralding angels appearing to the shepherds. To the left of the central manger scene, the infant Christ is being bathed, a traditional reminder of His humanity and condescension. At the bottom left, Joseph is confronted by the Devil who tempts him to doubt the virgin birth of Christ. Finally arriving and kneeling before the enthroned Virgin Mary and Christ Child, the Magi present their lavish gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.