Giovanni di Pietro, called Lo Spagna, Nativity and arrival of the Magi, 1507-1508, oil on wood, golden frame, Vatican Art Gallery © Musei Vaticani
Among the followers of Perugino, Giovanni di Pietro, called Lo Spagna (“The Spaniard”), produced this brightly colored altar painting and combined the traditional scenes surrounding the birth of Jesus on a naturalistic background inspired by the Umbrian countryside. In center stage lies the Child Jesus out in the open and not in a grotto, with Mary, Joseph, and three angels kneeling nearby in adoration. Two arrival scenes are depicted in the background, with an interesting play on perspective: the shepherds to one side and the Magi on the other along with their entourage. Even the bull and the donkey, which make an appearance in the scene, are distant from the Holy Family, while a choir of angels sing in the heavens to announce the birth of the Savior.
(Pope St. John Paul II – Homily at Midnight Mass – 2000)
Under the direction of Paolo Ondarza
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