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Nativity With Saint Francis And Saint Lawrence (The Adoration)

size(cm): 35x25
Sale price£95 GBP


The “Nativity with Saint Francis and Saint Lawrence”, also known as “The Adoration”, is one of the most famous works by Caravaggio, the master painter of the Italian Baroque.

The work was commissioned in 1609 and hung above the altar of the Oratorio di San Lorenzo, in Palermo, Sicily.

As the title shows, the work represents the Nativity of Christ. The central theme is the Christ-child himself, lying on a bed of straw. Caravaggio illustrates a gathering of many saints and shepherds, who have come together to worship the newborn baby Jesus. The setting is under the roof of the stable in Bethlehem.

The most striking feature of the painting is its subtlety. The side walls merge smoothly into the brownish darkness, making it difficult for a casual observer to see Saint Lawrence, one of the main characters, at first glance. Many observers would also mistake Saint Francis, the other notable figure in the assembly, for a shepherd.

"The Adoration" is rich in symbolism. Caravaggio represents an ox, which appears behind San Lorenzo and looks at the Christ child. At the top of the painting, Caravaggio depicts an angel apparently descending from heaven. The angel carries a banner in his left hand, which reads "Glory." The angel's right hand points upwards, as if to assure the infant Jesus that he is indeed the savior.

Among the various figures that occupy the center of the portrait, two stand out. One is the patron who represents the church, for whom Caravaggio executed the work. The other figure represents the Order to which the church belongs. There is no clear indication of which figure represents Joseph, the adoptive father of Christ.

The painting also has a touch of realism. The Blessed Virgin, seen looking at the child, is represented squatting on the ground, exhausted. She wears a cut dress that falls from her right shoulder. The choice of clothing is unusual for the stage and marks a notable aberration in the conformist setting.

The main theme of the painting is a thoughtful tradition. Caravaggio describes the idea of ​​Christ's advent not with the joy of Redemption but with an uncertain future.

Cut back to modern times, "the Nativity with Saint Francis and Saint Lawrence" is the subject of one of the most mysterious art thefts in history. The original painting, hung above the altar of the Oratorio de San Lorenzo, was stolen on October 18, 1969.

Due to its large size, the thieves removed the painting from its frame before taking it away. The local Sicilian mafia are the main suspects, although the identity of the thieves and the whereabouts of the painting remain a mystery to this day. The work is on the FBI's list of top 10 art-related crimes.

"The Nativity", if it still survives and is sold, has an estimated value of $20 million. The painting measures 268 cm x 197 cm, or about six square meters in area.

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