Birth of Christ

From tapestries
Jump to: navigation, search

Birth of Christ

In this third panel of the series, different scenes from the childhood of Jesus Christ are depicted: his birth, the Adoration and his debate with the doctors of the Church. The composition of this panel differs from the others because the scenes are divided into seven sections rather than three.

Gloria in excelsis Deo

This panel diverts from the other two, because here the composition is divided into seven instead of five scenes. In the center, the Nativity, with Mary and Joseph seen in adoration of the baby Jesus, surrounded by a group of angels. Above them, God the Father in heaven also with angels who sing the glory of God: Gloria in excelsis Deo.


Above this, the upper register of scenes (from left to right): Solomon and Queen Sheba, Moses and the burning bush, Aaron burning fragrant incense at the altar and Moses with the Ten Commandments. Below to the left, the Adoration of the Shepherds and the three Magi with Mary sitting on a throne with a dais and baby Jesus on her lap.

Christ among the Doctors

To the right, the Christ Child among the Doctors, an episode in the early life of Jesus which occured when he was twelve. After a pilgrimage to Jersualem with Mary and Joseph, Jesus was mistakenly left behind and found three days later in the temple, conferring with the Elders about the Scriptures, all of whom were amazed by his learning. The doctors in this scene can be easily picked out as they hold large books, open or closed, while they debate with the young Jesus seated above them.

From Brussels to Madrid

In 1502, Juana bought from van Aelst six tapestries of silk, richly woven with much gold thread (“six grands pièces de tapisserie de d’or et soye”) which she acquired for her pleasure (“pour s’en...faire de ses plaisirs”). When Juana definitively returned to Spain, where she lived in reclusion at the palace of Tordesillas, this tapestry cycle remained the highlight of her collection. In 1526 Juana’s eldest son, Emperor Charles V, appropriated this set for himself. It was subesequently inherited by Philip II who displayed them at the Escorial Monastery before they returned, in 1593, to the royal wardrobe of the Alcázar palace in Madrid.


An inscription can be read in the banderole above the Virgin’s head: Gloria in exclesis Deo

Series Triumphs of the Mother or Paños de Oro

Third tapestry in the series

Model Colin de Cooter?

Manufacture Pieter van Aelst (or van Edingen), Brussels, c. 1500-1502

Fabric Gold, silver, silk and wool

Size 305 x 335 cm

Location Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial

Origin Collection of Joana I of Castile

On display Halls of Honour

National Heritage Inv. 10014282


Personal tools