South Netherlandish; Made in Brabant
Carved and polychromed oak, copper gilt, silver gilt, painted parchment, and silk embroidered with seed pearls, gold thread, tinsel, and translucent enamels; 12 1/2 x 11 x 7 1/8 in. (35 x 28 x 18.1 cm)
Gift of Ruth Blumka, in memory of Leopold Blumka, 1974 (1974.121a–d)
This extraordinary miniature cradle, produced in Brabant and known as a repos de Jésus, served as a reliquary crib for the Christ Child. Such cribs were popular devotional objects in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, both in private homes and in convents. They were often venerated during Christmas festivities and may have been given as presents to nuns taking their vows. This splendid example, which comes from the Grand Béguinage in Louvain, features beautifully carved representations of the Nativity and the Adoration of the Magi on either end, as well as angels on each of the four bedposts. The Tree of Jessethe biblical family tree of Christis illustrated on the embroidered silk coverlet, under which the Child (now missing) originally lay, his head resting on the Lamb of God embroidered on the pillow. On the underside of the bed is a cavity that may have held a relic.