Carved panel showing The Nativity



Carved walrus ivory panel showing the Nativity. Mary lies on a wooden bed, her turbaned head supported on a pillow held by a midwife. Her right hand, on the edge of the bed, gestures down to Jesus below. The finely-rendered folds of the sheet draw attention to the curious perspective of the bed itself, a problem which is not alleviated by the additional leg to the right of the animals. The lower part of the leg at the bottom right has been broken off. Joseph sits on a stool with a cushion at the top right. The swaddled baby in the cradle below, set in an apparently rocky ground, looked over by and ox and ass. The eyes of the three adult figures and the two animals are drilled and set with black glass. A later hole is at the upper centre. The verso shows clearly the striation of a cross-section of walrus ivory. Ink note, 'The Nativity', probably by W.H. Rolfe. The panel is damaged at top left and bottom right. The upper and lower borders have been cut down, and the right border may have been trimmed.