The Birth of Christ

oil and tempera on panel (33 × 21 cm) — c. 1400 Museum Museum Mayer van den Bergh, Antwerp

This work is linked to Luke 2:7

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This pretty oak panel is painted with oil paint and tempera. Gold and silver were also used. It was part of a portable altarpiece, perhaps meant to be used while travelling. Because of its luxurious character the altarpiece is thought to have belonged to Philip the Bold, duke of Burgundy. Two panels are in Antwerp, and two in Baltimore.

Very special about this panel is Joseph cutting his stocking. According to a legend he did so in order to have some cloth to swaddle the naked child in.

In medieval times a church in Aachen kept relics that were supposed to be Joseph's stockings. Around 1400 veneration of the stockings reached it peak. That is one of the reasons that the maker of the panels is placed in the Rhine-Meuse region.

More information on the altarpiece and images of the other panels can be found at The Baptism of Christ.

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