Artist: Giotto di Bondone (Italian, Florentine, 1266/76–1337)
Date: possibly ca. 1320
Medium: Tempera on wood, gold ground
Dimensions: 17 3/4 x 17 1/4 in. (45.1 x 43.8 cm)
Credit Line: John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1911
Accession Number: 11.126.1
Dating to about 1320, this panel is one of seven showing the life of Christ. Nothing is known of their early history beyond the fact that they were painted for a Franciscan church or convent; however, the masterly depiction of the stable, the carefully articulated space, and the columnar solidity of the figures testify to Giotto’s reputation as the founder of European painting. The impetuous action of the kneeling king, who picks up the Christ Child, and Mary’s expression of concern translate the Biblical account into deeply human terms. "He made [art] natural and gave it gentleness" (Ghiberti, ca. 1450).