Overall, with engaged frame, 15 1/4 x 11 1/2 in. (38.7 x 29.2 cm); painted surface 13 x 9 1/8 in. (33 x 23.2 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1924
Not on view
Although long ascribed to Fra Angelico, this enchanting Nativity is probably by his pupil Zanobi Strozzi, who is especially known for his manuscript illuminations. The scene is from the base (predella) of an altarpiece. Especially the arc of angels, beautifully choreographed and dressed in a pleasing array of pastel-colored robes enhanced by gold decorations, is typical of Zanobi’s essentially decorative style. The altarpiece may date to about 1430–35.
See metmuseum.org/collections for a reconstruction of the altarpiece.
Inscription: Inscribed (top, the beginning illegible): . . . TER[R]A PAX HO[MIN]IB[VS] BON[A]E / VOLV[NTATIS] (. . . [on] earth peace, good will toward men [Luke 2:14].)
Antonio Nardi (until about 1923); [Ugo Jandolo, Rome, about 1923–24]; [Agnew, London, 1924; sold to MMA]
New York. The Cloisters, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Shepherds in the Fields," December 19, 1952–February 1, 1953, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Florentine Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum," June 15–August 15, 1971, no catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Fra Angelico," October 26, 2005–January 29, 2006, no. 51 (as "The Nativity [The Adoration of the Christ Child]," by Zanobi Strozzi).
Frida Schottmüller. Fra Angelico da Fiesole. 2nd ed. Stuttgart, 1924, p. 266, ill. p. 179, dates it between the Nativity fresco in the Convento di San Marco (Cell 5), Florence, and another version of the scene on one of the silver chest panels from the church of Santissima Annunziata (now in the Museo di San Marco).
B[ryson]. B[urroughs]. "The Nativity by Fra Angelico." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 19 (March 1924), pp. 66–68, ill., attributes it to Fra Angelico.
"Dans les galeries d'Amérique." Bulletin de l'art no. 704 (January 1924), p. 136, ill.
Raimond van Marle. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. Vol. 10, The Renaissance Painters of Florence in the 15th Century. The Hague, 1928, p. 160, calls it a work of Fra Angelico's shop and compares it to the Nativity in the von Nemes collection, Munich.
Lionello Venturi. Pitture italiane in America. Milan, 1931, unpaginated, pl. CLIII, ascribes it to Domenico di Michelino and compares it to an Annunciation in the Johnson collection in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 22, lists it as a work by Fra Angelico.
Lionello Venturi. Italian Paintings in America. Vol. 2, Fifteenth Century Renaissance. New York, 1933, unpaginated, pl. 183.
Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 19.
Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, pp. 24–25, ill., calls it a work of Fra Angelico's middle period, painted during his stay at the Convento di San Marco, but notes that "the color is not entirely characteristic of the master".
Mario Salmi. Il Beato Angelico. [Rome], 1958, p. 94, suggests that it was designed by Fra Angelico and executed by a follower, perhaps Domenico di Michelino.
Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Florentine School. London, 1963, vol. 1, p. 14, lists it as a product of Fra Angelico's workshop.
Marguerite Northrup, ed. The Christmas Story. New York, 1966, ill. p. 14 (color).
Umberto Baldini inL'opera completa dell'Angelico. Milan, 1970, p. 116–117, no. 130, ill., lists it among works attributed to Fra Angelico.
Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Florentine School. New York, 1971, pp. 79–81, ill., call it the left wing of a diptych and attribute it to the workshop of Fra Angelico, observing similarities to "the so-called Pseudo-Domenico di Michelino, sometimes identified with Zanobi Strozzi".
Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 9, 268, 606.
John Pope-Hennessy. Fra Angelico. 2nd ed. Ithaca, N.Y., 1974, p. 230, fig. 92, considers it the left wing of triptych or diptych; doubts the connection with Fra Angelico and rejects the attributions to Domenico di Michelino and Zanobi Strozzi; mentions another version of the composition in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, reversing the locations of two works in the captions to the illustrations.
Giorgio Bonsanti. Beato Angelico. Florence, 1998, p. 155, no. 83, ill., attributes it to Fra Angelico and dates it about 1450.
Laurence Kanter inFra Angelico. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2005, p. 100 n. 3, pp. 258, 266–67, no. 51, ill. (color), attributes it to Zanobi Strozzi and dates it to the late 1450s or early 1460s; identifies it as an independent panel made for private devotion.
Jacqueline Marie Musacchio. Art, Marriage, & Family in the Florentine Renaissance Palace. New Haven, 2008, p. 217, fig. 221 (color), attributes it to the workshop of Zanobi Strozzi and dates it about 1460.