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After Hugo van der Goes, The Nativity, at Night

Key facts
Full title The Nativity, at Night
Artist After Hugo van der Goes
Artist dates active 1467; died 1482
Date made probably about 1520-30
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 64.6 × 47.1 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1854
Inventory number NG2159
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Nativity, at Night
After Hugo van der Goes

The shining Christ Child lies on the ground surrounded by angels, while the Virgin Mary kneels to worship him and Saint Joseph stands holding a candle. Behind Joseph are two women in exotic jewelled turbans – the midwives who attended the birth. Angels hover in the air above.

Although this picture is of poor quality, and the style of its underdrawing and painting technique suggests it is from the early sixteenth century, the composition is close enough to the Portinari Triptych of around 1475 (Florence, Uffizzi) to suggest a connection with Hugo van der Goes. It is one of three surviving versions of a lost Nativity by him. The painter must have had access to patterns from van der Goes' workshop and used them to create a pastiche based on the lost painting, which was probably made in the early 1470s and might have been the missing left wing of the Monteforte Altarpiece (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin).

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