The Nativity with Donors and Saints Jerome and Leonard

Gerard David Netherlandish

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 636

David depicts the birth of Christ in the manger as a scene running continuously across all three panels, although the donor figures are kept distinct from the sacred protagonists. Despite the joyful moment depicted, the figures all wear somber expressions, foreshadowing Christ’s eventual suffering and death. The two donors, who are presented by Saints Jerome and Leonard, have remained unidentified. They could have been called Anthony and Catherine, since they are painted with the attributes (such as the pig, sword, and spiked wheel) of saints with these names.

The Nativity with Donors and Saints Jerome and Leonard, Gerard David (Netherlandish, Oudewater ca. 1455–1523 Bruges), Oil on canvas, transferred from wood

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