DUCCIO di Buoninsegna
(b. ca. 1255, Siena, d. 1319, Siena)

Nativity (scene 2)

Tempera on wood, 44 x 45 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

Although remaining faithful to Byzantine iconography, the Nativity scene pays greater attention to space, which is well distributed and amplified by the measured rhythm of the gestures. The narrative is enriched with descriptive details, combining facts drawn from Luke and from the apocryphal gospels, such as the two midwives bathing the Child (probably Salome and Zelomi) and the ox and the ass, while Joseph is portrayed in his usual thoughtful attitude, sitting outside the grotto.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 12 minutes):
Gregorian chants