UNKNOWN ICON PAINTER, Cretan
(late 16th century)
Egg tempera on wood, 56 x 35 cm
The icon of Christ's Nativity unites a number of events related to the Christmas story on a narrow rectangular panel. It was without a doubt painted for the Feast-day Tier of an iconostasis. The composition follows a widespread Greek iconography, already to be seen in a 14th-century.
The coloration of the icon is notable in particular for a luminous red and blue. Together with the pink of the garments of some of the angels and the seated midwife, these colours form a cheerful contrast with the ochres of the rocky landscape and the gold of the background. The painter was evidently acquainted not only with the traditions of Byzantine icon painting, but also with Italian art.