Icon: Nativity | S-2
Origin Russia, Moscow
Period : second half 16th century
Size : 32.2 x 27.5 cm
Private collection Germany | Sotheby’s Olympia London, June 2007, Lot 226 | Private collection United Kingdom
Published : H. Skrobucha ed., Kunst des Christlichen Ostens (exhib.cat.), Hoescht 1986, cat no. 70
At the centre, the new born Christ Child lies swaddled in a cave, immediately behind are an ox and a small white horse. The Mother of God is lying on a red cushion in front of the cave. To the left, Three Wise Men riding on horsebacks point to the star of Bethlehem. In the upper left and upper right corner angels look up to the star and bring the good news. To the right stands a shepherd with his sheep. In the lower part of the icon sits Joseph, deeply in thought,  his head resting on his right hand. The old man wearing a sheepskin opposite him is open to several interpretations. He is sometimes interpreted as the devil disguised as a shepherd, casting doubt in Joseph's puzzled mind. He is also seen as the Prophet Isaiah, who reminds Joseph of his prophecy (Isaiah 7, 14) where he tells that a virgin shall conceive and give birth to a child. To the left, the naked Christ Child is sitting on the lap of the nurse, in order to receive his first bath.