14th - 16th Century Gallery - Painting & Decorative Arts Level 1, NGV International
The depiction of the Nativity in the Orthodox icon tradition is significantly different to western depictions of the same subject. This example, by Victor of Crete (one of the most significant artists working in the Venetian-held Crete during the seventeenth century), adheres to the eastern or ‘Greek’ tradition. Multiple episodes are compressed in a single moment: the arrival of the Three Wise Men; Christ’s sleep in a bier in a cave; and his later washing by two nurses. The narrative elements in this icon are informed by the momentous rulings of the Council of Ephesus (431) which declared Mary to be the Mother of God, who nevertheless gave birth naturally, lying down.