SCALA/ART RESOURCE, NY
THE FIRST CHRISTMAS. Painted in the 14th century by the Armenian miniaturist Toros Taronatsi, this Nativity scene illustrates portions of Jesus’s birth stories from Christian tradition. In the center, Jesus lies in a manger that resembles an altar—foreshadowing his eventual sacrificial death. Directly above him are a donkey and ox. His mother, Mary, reclines below him. Joseph, his adoptive father, appears in the bottom right corner to underscore his noninvolvement in Jesus’s conception. At the top of the composition, angels celebrate and announce Jesus’s birth to shepherds, on the right, with their flocks. Guided by the star at the top, three magi appear on the left and present gifts to the infant. The bottom of the composition shows the bathing of the infant.