The Christmas Story: Picturing the Birth of Christ in Medieval Manuscripts
The Walters Art Museum
December 3, 2009 – February 28, 2010
Christmas, one of the most joyful seasons for Christian communities worldwide, celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ and the dramatic events that took place during his infancy—from his nativity in a lowly stable, to the angel’s announcement of this news to local shepherds, to Herod’s murder of all the babies in Bethlehem and his narrow escape from that slaughter. As it is recounted in the Christian New Testament, the Christmas story is remarkably short on specifics. In rendering the story into pictures, it fell to medieval illuminators to supply the details. Even today, popular representations of these events are based on images that were first devised by the artists of the Middle Ages.
This exhibition draws on the extraordinary holdings of the Walters Art Museum, and an anonymous private collection, to illustrate the Christmas story in the way that it has been understood for centuries, with Books of Hours and Missals from around the Christian world.