barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham


ascribed to Jan de Beer (about 1475 – before 1528)

Joseph and the Suitors (recto), The Nativity (verso)

Antwerp, about 1515/20

Oil on wood

137 x 137 cm 

 

This panel is painted on both sides and it formed part of an altarpiece or a screen illustrating the life of the Virgin Mary.

She is shown in a nocturnal scene adoring the infant Christ. Two shepherds approach through the door to the right, and Joseph with a lantern enters from the left. A different note is struck by the angels who are grief-stricken by the realisation of Christ’s fate. The infant lies on a stone, symbolising the altar used for the mass, and on a wheat sheaf, representing the communion bread.

Purchased 1951 (No. 51.5)

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