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The Nativity

Artist: Paolo Fiammingo (ca. 1540 - 1596)
Date: ca. 1577-1582
16th century
Dimensions: 45 x 38.88 in. (114.3 x 98.74 cm)
Dimensions Extent: canvas
Object Type: Painting
Creation Place: Europe, Italy
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation via The Discovery Museum, Bridgeport, CT
Accession Number: 2009.01.07
On View: Bellarmine Hall Galleries

Fiammingo’s birth name was Pauwels Franck, but he is better known today by his Italian nickname, which translates to “Paul the Fleming.” By 1573, Fiammingo was in Venice working in the studio of Jacopo Tintoretto as a specialist in landscape painting. His Nativity takes place in a bustling village, attended by witnesses in contemporary 16th-century dress, an unusual setting that reflects the artist’s Flemish background (Flemish artists were known for their interest in the realism of daily life). The handling of paint, in contrast, shows the influence of Fiammingo’s Venetian training – the infant Jesus is painted with such loose, painterly strokes that he appears to dissolve upon close inspection.

This painting was part of the group of works donated by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation to the Museum of Art, Science and Industry in Bridgeport, CT in 1962. When that museum became the Discovery Museum in the early 1990's, the Kress paintings were transferred to Fairfield University, where they formed the core of what would become the Fairfield University Art Museum.


Stroganoff Collection, Leningrad. [1] (Count Alessandro Contini Bonacossi [1878-1955] Rome-Florence); sold to Samuel H. Kress [1863-1955] on 1 September 1939; gift 1943 to the National Gallery of Art; deaccessioned in 1952 and returned to the Samuel H. Kress Foundation; gift 1962 to the Museum of Art, Science and Industry, Bridgeport, CT; gift 2002 to the Bellarmine Museum of Art, Fairfield University [now the Fairfield University Art Museum], no. K1178.

[1] This may refer to Count Grigory Sergeievich Stroganoff [1829-1910] whose collection was housed in a palazzo in Rome. After his death the collection was dispersed and Contini Bonacossi acquired a number of paintings that were ultimately sold to Kress. This picture, however, is not included in Pieces de choix de la collection du Comte Gregoire Stroganoff à Rome, 2 vols, Rome, 1911-1912.


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Refers to the intellectual movement, style, and culture that originated in Italy in the late 14th century, spread throughout Europe, and culminated in the 16th century. Style is characterized by a deliberate reference to the art, architecture, literature, and ideals of Classical Rome and Greece.
Unique works in which images are formed primarily by the direct application of pigments suspended in oil, water, egg yolk, molten wax, or other liquid, arranged in masses of color, onto a generally two-dimensional surface.
public domain
Land owned and controlled by the state or federal government. Also, the status of publications, products, and processes that are not protected under patent or copyright.
Refers to the world religion and culture that developed in the first century CE, driven by the teachings of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Its roots are in the Judaic tradition and the Old Testament. The tenets include a belief in the death and redemptive resurrection of Jesus. The religion incorporates a tradition of faith, ritual, and a form of church authority or leadership.

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