Ilya Repin, a portrait master, decided to depict one of the most popular subjects from the New Testament. In this work, we see the first minutes after the birth of Jesus. In the manger, where, according to the Bible, the birth took place, there is Mary, Jesus and Joseph.
In the painting “The Nativity of Christ” we see an absolutely peaceful atmosphere. Mary, the mother of Jesus, sits near the newborn future Savior. Repin did not want to transfer events from past centuries to the modern world, which Renaissance artists often did. Therefore, in this work, we see that Maria does not have a European appearance, she is dressed in clothing characteristic of those places and that time. She has a long red dress on her head and neck - a white scarf. Many argue that the red robe, in which the Mother of God is often portrayed, is a symbol of blood, which will subsequently be shed by her son. But now it is still very far from these events, so the mother is absolutely calm. She looks with pacification at her child. She laid her hands on Jesus’s blanket. The baby is depicted in the cradle. From above it is covered with a snow-white warm blanket. We can see only the head of the child. He does not sleep, but does not scream. The child, as well as the mother, is serene and calm.
Joseph and Mary stand next to Mary and Jesus. His figure is depicted in very dark colors, which creates the feeling that he is far from the most important person on this canvas. A small candle located near the crib of Jesus only slightly illuminates Joseph's face. Next to the crib is a copper basin, on which lies a white piece of fabric. So, the artist depicted the future baptism that awaits the baby.
In the history of fine art there is a small number of works on religious subjects, where tragedy is not depicted. It is believed that only a great tragic story can reach people. Repin went the other way. He managed to convey through this work the feelings of a young mother who had just given birth to a child.
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