Sandro Botticelli: The Mystical Nativity (1500-1501)
(National Gallery, London, UK)
A painting by the Italian artist Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510). In the center is a nativity with the infant Christ, Mary and Joseph. Around the nativity are several groups of angels and men who are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. At the top of the painting are 12 angels, dressed in the colours of faith, hope and charity, dancing in a circle while holding olive branches. In the sky itself, Heaven opens up in a golden disc. The text at the top is Greek which reads: "This picture, at the end of the year 1500, in the troubles of Italy, I Alessandro (= Sandro Botticelli), in the half-time after the time, painted, according to the eleventh [chapter] of Saint John, in the second woe of the Apocalypse, during the release of the devil for three-and-a-half years; then he shall be bound in the twelfth [chapter] and we shall see [him buried] as in this picture". On the left and right of the nativity are the 3 kings and the shepherds. At the bottom of the painting there are 3 angels, again dressed in the colours of faith, hope and charity, embracing 3 men. Above each pair is a scroll with the text "Peace on earth to men of goodwill" (Gospel of Saint Luke 2:14). Also visible at the bottom are devils who are fleeing to the underworld. Painting from 1500-1501.