The NativityThe Nativity is the name given to the birth of Christ and his adoration (see the Adoration of the Kings and the Adoration of the Shepherds). A sparse description of the event is provided by the Gospels (Matthew 2: 1-12; Luke 2: 1-20). They recount how the Christ Child was laid in a manger and shepherds, led by an angel, came to worship him as did the wise men with their gifts. Later writers embellished the event adding elements which are often included in the painted representations of it, most notably an ox and an ass. The wise men are also often portrayed as kings and the scene set in a cave or ancient ruins with the Virgin adoring the Christ.
The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN