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This horizontal painting is made up of three parts: in the center square panel, a woman reclines under a wooden shelter set into a rocky cave, which is surrounded by angels, and narrower wings to either side are each occupied by a standing man. All the people have white skin, which has been tinged with faint green over time. The three panels are joined with a gold frame, and the gold background behind the central scene and the men in the side panels are covered with a noticeable network of cracks. In the central panel, a cobalt blue robe nearly envelopes the reclining woman’s body, the Virgin Mary. It covers her head and falls open where she crosses her wrists over her chest to show a pink garment underneath. A flat gold halo encircles her head and her body is surrounded by a field of crimson red, almost like an aura. She rests under a wooden structure with a pitched roof, which seems surrounded by craggy, barren rock. A swaddled infant lays in a rectangular, tray like manger. The infant’s head is also surrounded by a gold halo. Fine gold rays emanate down into the structure from a star just above the peak of the roof. A bull and a donkey look down at the baby from the opposite side of the manger. The interior of the structure behind them is black. In a smaller scale, two women wash a haloed infant in a tub in front of the rocky cave. A man with a white beard and hair sits to our left of Mary, holding a pink cloak at his throat and looking towards the infant in the manger. Above and around the rocks, seven winged and haloed angels cluster on each side. One angel to the right presents a scroll with black writing to two men accompanied by a dog and several sheep in the lower right. The man in the panel to the left, Isaiah, has a gray beard and long, wavy hair, and he wears a lilac cloak draped over a coral robe. In his right hand, on our left, he holds an unfurled scroll with large black lettering. His other hand is raised with one finger pointing upward. He looks to our left, away from the central scene. On the right, Ezekiel, stands in a mirror image of Isaiah. He holds an open scroll with his left hand, on our right, and his other hand is raised. He also wears a coral-colored robe, but his is overlaid with a blue cloak. His receding hair is short and brown, as is his beard. Like Isaiah, he takes up most of the height of the panel and gazes to our left, but because of his position in relation to the central panel, he gazes toward the Nativity.

Duccio di Buoninsegna, The Nativity with the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel, 1308-1311, tempera on single poplar panel, Andrew W. Mellon Collection, 1937.1.8

Canceled—Italian Renaissance Collection

  • Sunday, May 31, 2020
  • 1:30 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.
  • West Building, Main Floor - Rotunda

This tour focuses on the artist’s response to the culture and ideals of the Renaissance in Italy. It traces the rise of scientific inquiry, humanism, and new approaches to religious imagery through the art of masters like GiottoLeonardoRaphael, and Titian.

March
Monday—Sunday at 3:30 p.m.

April—May
Tuesday, Thursday at 12:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 3:30 p.m.