The Nativity

Artist: Lorenzo Monaco (Piero di Giovanni) (Italian, Florence (?) ca. 1370–1425 Florence (?))

Date: ca. 1406–10

Medium: Tempera on wood, gold ground

Dimensions: 8 3/4 x 12 1/4 in. (22.2 x 31.1 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Robert Lehman Collection, 1975

Accession Number: 1975.1.66


Lorenzo Monaco, the leading painter in Florence in the early fifteenth century, was active as a painter of illuminated manuscripts, frescoes and panel paintings. A major proponent of the International Gothic style, his style is characterized by luminous color and graceful, rhythmic, flowing lines. In this exquisite depiction of the Nativity, the compositional elements are brilliantly adapted to the quatrefoil field, and the rich and subtle color harmonies reflect the artist's skill as a manuscript painter. Particularly striking is the nocturnal setting, which is suffused by the supernatural light emanating from the Christ Child and the angel. This panel formed part of a predella, which also included a Visitation, an Adoration of the Magi, and a Flight into Egypt believed to have come from an altarpiece of the Annunciation by Lorenzo Monaco (Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence).