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Follower of Sodoma, The Nativity with the Infant Baptist and Shepherds

Key facts
Full title The Nativity with the Infant Baptist and Shepherds
Artist Follower of Sodoma
Artist dates 1477 - 1549
Date made probably about 1540-60
Medium and support Oil on poplar
Dimensions 119.7 × 96.5 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by the Widow of Ernest Hartland, 1932
Inventory number NG4647
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Nativity with the Infant Baptist and Shepherds
Follower of Sodoma

The Virgin Mary prays before the newborn Christ, who radiates heavenly light. Saint Joseph holds back the infant Saint John the Baptist, who holds a cross, a symbol of Christ’s destiny. It is unusual to find the infant John the Baptist included in an image of the Nativity.

Two shepherds arrive on the left looking for the newborn Messiah. The lamb on the shepherd’s shoulder is a gift but also acts as a symbol of Christ’s identity as the ‘lamb of God’ who will be sacrificed for the salvation of humanity. In the background the angel appears to the shepherds in the sky to announce Christ’s birth, and the Three Kings are guided by a star to Bethlehem.

This picture was probably not painted by Sodoma or his workshop but is more likely to have been by an artist copying various elements from Sodoma’s pictures.

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