Gentile da Fabriano. Adoration of the Magi, 1423. Tempera on panel. Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

Annunciation to Last Judgement: themes and variations in Christian art – 2. The Nativity and Adorations from the fourth to nineteenth centuries

  • Begins: Wednesday 21 July 2021
    Until: Thursday 22 July 2021
  • Lecturer: Clare Ford-Wille

During the summer of 2021 we are offering a series of linked but separate study days on  images from Christian Art. Each day can be booked individually.

The Summer Series will examine the main themes and many ways in which they were interpreted by artists and sculptors from the fourth to nineteenth centuries. We will consider the ways in which artists and their patrons interpreted the texts, not only of the Bible, but also the Revelations of St. Bridget and the fascinating commentaries in The Golden Legend.

Programme for Day 2 – Parts 1 and 2

The Nativity and Adorations from the fourth to the nineteenth centuries
The rich and vibrant themes of the Nativity and Adorations of the Shepherds and the Magi will be considered. These themes were an opportunity for artists and sculptors to represent, in a multitude of ways, the private adoration of the Virgin and Joseph – or the more public revealing of Christ, first to the Shepherds and then to the Magi. Why are the Magi of different ages and types, for example?  Why are they called by the different names of Wise Men, Magi or Kings?  Do the events take place all at once or separately? What is the symbolism of the gifts which the shepherds or the Magi bring? These are just some of the fascinating and subtle details to be considered in sculptured capitals and reliefs, mosaics, illuminated manuscripts or paintings from Ravenna to Antwerp.


Part 1 ( 21 July)
1. Introduction to the Texts: the Bible, The Golden Legend and the Revelations of St. Bridget
2. The Nativity in Sculpture, Painting, Mosaic and Illuminated Manuscripts

Part 2 (22 July)
3. The Adoration of the Shepherds in Sculpture, Painting, Mosaic and Illuminated Manuscripts
4. The Adoration of the Magi in Sculpture, Painting, Mosaic and Illuminated Manuscripts

Future days

  • The Life and Ministry of Christ – 9/10 August 2021 (online)
  • Entry into Jerusalem to the Last Supper – 24/25 August 2021 (online)
  • From Crucifixion to Resurrection – 6 Sep 2021 (in-person)
  • Ascension, Pentecost, Last Judgement – 24 Sep 2021 (in-person)


Clare Ford-Wille is an independent art historian, well known to members for her courses at Birkbeck and Morley College as well as a lecturer at the National Gallery, the V&A and The Arts Society groups in Britain and Europe. She has led many tours abroad. Clare is a Vice President of The London Art History Society.

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