Crib of the Infant Jesus

Date: 15th century

Geography: Made in Brabant, South Netherlands

Culture: South Netherlandish

Medium: Wood, polychromy, lead, silver-gilt, painted parchment, silk embroidery with seed pearls, gold thread, translucent enamels

Dimensions: 13 15/16 x 11 3/8 x 7 1/4 in. (35.4 x 28.9 x 18.4 cm)
Other (pillow): 4 1/4 x 6 3/4 x 1 3/4 in. (10.8 x 17.1 x 4.4 cm)
Bedcover: 6 7/8 × 6 1/2 × 1/8 in. (17.4 × 16.5 × 0.3 cm)
Other (Cavity under thre crib): 2 1/16 × 1 1/8 × 1/4 in. (5.2 × 2.8 × 0.7 cm)

Classification: Woodwork

Credit Line: Gift of Ruth Blumka, in memory of Leopold Blumka, 1974

Accession Number: 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 Jesse—the biblical family tree of Christ—is 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. Inside the bed is the case for the relic.