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Monday, December 31, 2007

Nativity Scenes Collection Wall Art

I trust that all my blogger friends have had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends. I went to my youngest sister’s house for a few days, where her husband, son, daughter and our mother had a great Christmas day. The food was delectable and the gifts were fun to open. We enjoyed a lot of talk and laughter, and the joy of family.

In my last post before Christmas, I introduced the nativity gallery in my den. One comment referred to one of the art works depicting the three Wise Men. I promised to post about the wall art in my nativity scenes collection. As only some of the wall art can be displayed in the gallery, some are hung in the small front hall on the walls along the stairs, and in the tiny hall outside the gallery. One is in the dining room and the balance are in the hall to the bedrooms.
First I’d like to review those in the nativity gallery room by world area, starting with the MIDDLE EAST.
" Escape to Egypt" is an original watercolor painting on papyrus painted in Egypt. The scene shows Mary with Baby Jesus on Donkey and Joseph

Next is a print on paper, "The Nativity" original made in Iran. Text at bottom: "The Nativity, Armenian Miniature 1300 AC, Manuscript of All Saviour’s Armenian Cathedral, Julfa, Isfahan, Iran.

This batik painting on fabric is from Tanzania. It shows Mary, Baby Jesus Joseph and Wise Men.

Another batik nativity wall hanging was made in India. It is a rendering of the nativity scene in warm colors.

"Magos en la Capilla" by Michelle Yegros is a digital serigraph on acid free linen paper. Made in U.S. by Puerto Rican Artist. 2003

"Sueno con los Reyes"("I Dream of the Magi") is another digital serigraph on acid free linen paper made in U.S. by Puerto Rican Artist Michelle Yegros. The serigraph is a surrealist rendition of the Three Wise Men.

Here is a hand quilted fabric panel, a mola, using a reverse applique technique of the Indians of the San Blas Islands of Panama, using three layers of cloth and fine stitching.12" T x 16 ½" W depicts an Angel/ Joseph/ Mary/ Baby Jesus/Lambs/ Star above

One of two paper posters from an original published in Cuba as a Carteles magazine cover, "Nativity" Reproduced by CubanGraphics in USA. The 10"H x 8"W poster shows Mary and Baby Jesus surrounded by Three Wise Men; Angels on roof; everyday citizens are depicted forming a line of pilgrimage.

The second poster is "Baby Jesus Mary Three Kings" In center is Baby Jesus on Mary’s lap; on upper left, Joseph with the Ox and Donkey, on lower left woman kneeling, on upper right Three Wisemen; lower right, kneeling Shepherd and staff.

EUROPE [not pictured]
On the wall is a color engraving, "Repos En Egypte – Reposo En Egipto – The Repose in Egypt." Made in France, it is framed in dark wood with beaded inner border. Lower left of image area reads "Paris, L. Turgis Jne Impr. Editi. R. des Ecoles, 60."

A steel engraving, "The Nativity" by Antonio Correggio. Artist signed vintage calendar print. Stable scene with Mary and Baby Jesus, shepherd, female figure, Joseph, animals, and angels hovering above.

This wood hand carved nativity scene is an unfinished wood panel with notch for hanging. 11 ¾" T x 23 ½" W. The carving is signed PS VIII 2000 and depicts Mary, Baby Jesus, and Joseph in Stable

Moving to the STAIR HALL we see
"Reyes a Belen" (Kings to Bethlehem) a limited edition, hand signed & numbered nativity print features the Three Kings - Caspar, Melchior, Balthazar - as they ride toward Bethlehem. Custom matted behind glass in a gilded, wooden 20.5" x 24.5" frame. The lower left is hand numbered 57/175 and the lower right corner is pencil signed and dated Nadal 1993.

Counted cross-stitch embroidery, "Medieval Nativity" Framed and matted, (21 1/2"Hx17 1/2"W) Stitched on Cream Lugana.

Next is a piece of crewel embroidery depicting the Donkey/ Joseph/ Mary and Baby Jesus/ Sheep and Lamb/ Window with Star/ 2 Doves on ledge above

Needlepoint embroidery with, l.-r., Shepherds and Sheep, Family, Three Wise Men.

Handmade quilted fabric 14.5" diameter, done with small prints, each piece cut and sewn to the background. A wood hoop used as a frame has walnut color stain

On the wall in the DINING RM is an original WPA folio print by American artist, Lauren Ford. Made in the USA. 1930’s. Description on verso – "The nativity scene is "shown as if it had taken place on her own farm near Bethlehem, Connecticut."

Many pieces are kept in the HALL:
A wood block print on paper by Michael Black. "The Nativity." Print signed and titled in pencil. ca.1960’s?

An antique photogravure print, "Nativity Night, Shepherds, Sheep Goats," published by Gebbie & Husson, 1889. After the original painting by Henry Rankin Poore (1859-1940)

A German style paper cutting (Scherenschnitte) of Nativity Christmas Tree design. Made in U.S.A. Signed K.McMillan in pencil on lower right. Hand-made on parchment-type paper by Kimberly McMillan in Dallas, Georgia, July 2005. Nativity scene under and surrounding Christmas tree with Star above. Family in stable with animals/ Three Wise Men/ Angels and shepherds scene.

Brass rubbing nativity scene. Made in England. Bluish/ silverish rubbing mounted on 8 x 10 mat board, shows Angel, Jesus, Mary, Joseph

An 1880’s print on paper. Nativity Scene by illustrator Gustave Dore. Shepherds visit Mary, Baby Jesus, and Joseph in stable.

A print on paper by John Mansbridge, "Angel Announces Jesus Under Star", from book The First Christmas Morning, by Minnie Lake. Made in England. Under star Angel announces Jesus birth to Shepherds in field with flock.

I hope you enjoyed this further look at my Nativity Scenes Collection. Thank your for your visit. Come again very soon.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Nativity Scenes Gallery at Oak Rise Cottage

In today’s post I would like to share a very special Christmas-related collection at Oak Rise Cottage—my nativity scenes collection.

I began nativity collecting because I wished to focus more on the essential purpose of the Christmas holiday. People kept saying that Christmas was no longer worth celebrating because, "Christmas has gotten too commercialized." Not at all willing to give up on the most wonderful time of the year, I thought, why not do something about this overbearing commercialization? It always takes someone deciding and doing to make any changes.
So my goal became doing whatever was in my sphere to keep Christ in Christmas. One way to accomplish this was by presenting visuals of the story of Christ’s birth.

My first set was a 16-piece pewter plated set, purchased in December 1991 at a very charming gift shop.

It is realistically detailed on both sides. Note the shepherd girl and boy:

Everyone who sees the set is captivated by the detail. Even though I liked the pewter set very much, I still wanted something a bit more colorful, so I found this 11-piece ceramic set at Brooks Pharmacy for $7.99

Visiting a Hallmark store’s after-Christmas sale, I decided to collect just ornaments and started with these two:

As time went on, I found myself buying both sets and ornaments from catalogues, at antique stores, gift shops, while travelling, online from eBay and other venues. Co-workers, friends and relatives gifted me with more. Actually, the first ornament in the collection was in 1979 gift from a dear co-worker

So the collection grew and grew. At Christmas I displayed them in each room of my house. I also exhibited them in the college library each year, and at a gallery in Worcester, MA, where I also gave a 40-minute lecture on the nativity in December 2000. In subsequent years I loaned sets for display. Then, because of all the work of packing up, setting up and taking down, I decided to set up a mini museum right at home.
In 2005 this major change came about as I decided to empty the approximately 12’x15’ den and make it into a ‘gallery’ for my nativity collection. No longer were the nativities spread all over the house; instead, the major portion was consigned to the new Gallery. To make the gallery displays, I gathered together a plethora of tables, stands and bookcases I had gotten at consignment shops and at thrift and junk stores. To give the room some harmony, I rummaged around my house and found all the green or red fabrics, place mats, tablecloths, and even tissue paper, to provide a background for the various items. My aim was to avoid spending extra money on installation apparatus. I just made use of what I could find around the house and in the garage.

For some time, I had sought nativity scenes from various countries. It was great to see the diverse ways that the nativity story was depicted by each ethnic group or nation. So the gallery display is for the most part, arranged on three walls by world area. Starting just inside the door, to the left is the MIDDLE EAST,

with an olive wood set from Bethlehem...

then AFRICA,

Here is a set made from the thorn tree in Nigeria
and a brass set from Cameroon:

Next is ASIA,
which includes a wood carved set from China:

and a ceramic set from Korea:

LATIN AMERICA occupies one corner,
which includes this fine set of ceramic with gilt trim from Uruguay:

Next is EUROPE.

This handpainted wood set is from Russia:
From Germany comes this colorful plastic child's set by Playmobil,

And this vintage set of painted wood is from Denmark:

Europe ends this international display with Italy, the home of the first recreated nativity scene led by St. Francis of Assisi in 1223 in the village of Greccio. The last set is the popular Fontanini Heirloom nativity with its various figures and accessories.

Additional Italian nativity scenes include a glass one from Murano,

A vintage set of white plastic, a one-piece by Nuova Capodimonte, and one from Demetz Art Studio.

On a low table in the middle of the room is the United States. These are mainly nativities by various artists.

Canada is represented by a Heather Goldminc ceramic nativity, in her colorful whimsical style.

Other nativity sets occupy shelving units on the right of the door – children’s sets such as Precious Moments, Cherished Teddies, Hallmark Peanuts Gallery. These sets of pottery, paper, crystal, depict the nativity in various materials. Here is one by artist Ted Naos, sold by the Art Institute of Chicago:

On a ledge is Department 56 'Little Town of Bethlehem' with its lighted buildings

During the past two Christmases I have enjoyed each time family members, friends, neighbors, have come in the room for me to show them around the displays. Last Christmas Day after dinner we adults retired to the gallery. (The youth had already taken their tour before the meal.) There I gave my mother, my sister, her husband and his mother a relaxed tour around the room. We took time to examine special details and to discuss the designs of many of the nativity scenes.

The photographs in this post can provide only a glimpse of the inspiring array of nativity scenes. I wish you could visit in person to take in the various materials and styles. It helps us reflect on why we celebrate this day. It also helps us to realize just why this season has such a powerful effect on people year after year.

Feel free to ask any question or make a comment have on the Nativity Gallery.
Thank you for stopping by. Do come again very soon.

Vintage postcard at top is from nativity collection at Oak Rise Cottage. It pictures a panoramic view of life-size nativity figures at the Old State House in Hartford, Connecticut.