I normally write a post related to pilgrimage and Christmas this time of year. This year has been a very busy one keeping up with the blog, facebook page , work and everyday life so I decided instead of researching a new topic to share some of my favourite images of the Nativity as depicted in medieval and modern glass and stone sculpture from Ireland and the Continent.
This small ivory panel was carved around AD 1000-1050 in Germany and probably came from the area around Liège or Cologne. The upper section of the plaque depicts the Annunciation and the lower the Nativity. I really like the little details that the artist has carved in the Nativity scene such as Mary’s shoes sitting beside her on a stool (1).
Another great image of the Nativity is found carved on a column at the Soria Monastery of San Juan de Duero, Spain dating to the 12th -13th century. It seem the stable was very compact (2).
This is a more modern depiction and is one of my favourite stained glass windows. Created by Harry Clarke in 1918 for the St Barrahane’s Church of Ireland church at Castletownshend, Co Cork it depicts the Nativity and Adoration. My photo does not do justice to the fantastic colours of the glass (3).
Following the birth of Christ the three Magi follow the star to Bethlehem, brining with them gifts for the Christ child.
This scene from one of the columns at the Cathedral of St. Lazare, built between 1120 and 1146, depicts an angel coming to wake up the three magi so they can follow the star to Bethlehem (4) . This carving along with many others from St Lazare were carved by a man called Gislebertus who was one the greatest sculptor of his time.
The Adoration of the Magi was also recorded on a number of early medieval Irish High Crosses. Below is an image that depicts the Adoration of the Magi on the east face of Muiredach’s High Cross at Monasterboise Co Louth, carved in the 9th/10th century.
The Magi are also depicted coming with gifts in a carving in the west gable of the 12th century cathedral church at Ardmore Co Waterford. The three Magi are the lower figures under the scene depicting the Judgement of Solomon.
Following the epiphany the next big event in the life of Christ was the “Flight into Egypt”.
I love this image of the Flight into Egypt also carved by Gislebertu, Mary is depicted with a ball in her hand which the Christ child is also touching maybe its a toy ? Poor Joseph looks like he is about to fall over. The carving is found in the Cathedral of St Lazare, Autun, France at the top of a capital in the nave and dates to circa. 1125 (5).
I also love this very different depiction of the Flight into Egypt found on the Moone High Cross. The cross which was made around the 9th century, it was carved from granite, a very difficult stone to work. Whoever carved this possessed great skill as a stone mason and his simple design has a unique charm.
There are many more images I could share but I think these are some of the nicest. So a very Happy Christmas to everyone and thank you all for your support for this blog.
3. Many thanks to Finola and Richard of the Roaring Water Journal for taking me to see this amazing window in November.
Thanks for sharing these nativity scenes. Nollaig Shona to you.
Lovely images – can’t decide my favourite but the angel waking the magi is a strong contender!