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The Nativity in Art: Centuries of Storytelling

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The Nativity in Art: Centuries of Storytelling

Daytime Program

Noon Lecture/Seminar

Wednesday, December 16, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0553
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.

First told in the New Testament gospels of Saint Matthew and Saint Luke and later in apocryphal stories and legends, the Nativity story has inspired generations of artists to capture the moment—and intense spirituality—of Christ’s birth.

From the earliest known image, a 2nd-century painting in the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome, through 17th-century presentations of the Holy Family, depictions of the Nativity reflect both the events in the early life of Christ and the stylistic developments of European art. Art historian Elaine Ruffolo traces the artistic evolution of the Nativity as seen through the eyes of painters, moving from Jesus’s early representation as a lord who reigns over the world to a more humble and human Franciscan-inspired savior to a dramatically presented figure in Baroque style.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*

Patron Information

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*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.