(c. 1430-1508/12)

Nativity with Sts Lawrence and Andrew

Tempera on panel, 142 x 176 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

Formerly listed in the Barberini inventories as a work of Ghirlandaio, this painting has had various attributions attached to it. It was once given to an anonymous master influenced by Melozzo da Forli, who took his name "The Master of the Barberini Nativity" from this picture. However, the painting is identifiable with Antoniazzo Romano on account of its closeness to the same artist's Nativity at Cività Castellana, and datable to the years between 1480 and 1485. This painting stands as a fundamental work for the understanding of Roman painting of the second half of the fifteenth century. The iconography, with the infant Christ lying in a bundle of grain - a reference to Eucharistic symbolism - also includes the anemone and cyclamen in the foreground, both flowers that symbolize the passion of Christ.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 16 minutes):
Arcangelo Corelli: Concerto grosso in g minor op. 6 No. 8 (Christmas Concerto)