DAVID, Gerard
(b. ca. 1460, Oudewater, d. 1523, Bruges)

The Nativity

1480-82
Oil on wood, 47 x 34 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

This painting, which most likely was intended as a single, private devotional panel, combines the depiction of the Nativity and the Adoration of the Shepherds as described in both biblical and mystical literature. It probably dates from the early 1480s, before David established himself in Bruges. The homely and naive figure types and the geometric simplification of the heads of the Virgin and angels reflect models the artist knew from his early training in the northern Netherlands. Already present is the characteristic combination of serene landscape, simple architectural setting, and meditative figures that would contribute to the painter's popularity.