National Gallery Nativities

Explore the first Christmas story through exceptional works in the National Gallery’s collection

The Christmas story

The Christmas period is the time when Christians celebrate their joy at the birth of Jesus. They believe that his birth fulfilled the Old Testament promise that a Messiah, Christ, would be born.

The story of the Nativity, first told in the New Testament gospels of Saint Matthew and Saint Luke, has inspired artists to create some of the most affectionate, gentle and intimate images, which can be enjoyed by everyone.

The paintings help to bring to life the story of the family’s struggle to deliver the child and keep him safe from harm, inviting us to share the emotions and joyous celebrations of the original Christmas.

Follow the Christmas story through paintings at the National Gallery, beginning with some unexpected news. 

Next: Annunciation

 
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