- the children's section of the 24 Hour Museum.
Pick a topic
Games and Fun
Places to go
show and tell
Get in touch
About Us
The Big Draw

  Webby Awards Nominee logo

  The British Academy Award is based on a design by Mitzi Cunliffe - the children's section of the 24 Hour Museum. - the children's section of the 24 Hour Museum. April 21 2014
Accessibility | Site Map
We show you cool stuff from the UK's museums and galleries
Home  > News  > Madonna Close-up: Zoom Into Nativity Paintings

Madonna Close-up: Zoom Into Nativity Paintings

December 16 2008

Well, it's that time of year again. Lots of food, lots of tinsel, lots of sparkly trees and of course, lots and lots of presents.

Christmas isn't just about that stuff though - we've got some very special Christmassy paintings to show you.

All of these pictures are looked after in The National Gallery - a huge art gallery in the middle of London.

Read on to find out why they're so special and how you can zoom into them online to see them really close up.

(The first time you look at one of the zoomable pictures it will take a while to load, but it's well worth the wait.)

Shows a painting of a baby, Jesus, in a cradle with Mary and several angels watching over it. The painting's very dark, with the only light coming from the crib.

This is called 'The Nativity At Night' and was painted by an artist called Geertgen in the late 15th century. That's more than 500 years ago!

Geertgen's used light coming from baby Jesus to light up Mary and the angels. It's a very beautiful painting don't you think?

See The Nativity At Night here and click on the zoom symbol to explore - can you find the tiny fluttering angel?

© The National Gallery, London.

The Madonna and Child with the Infant Baptist is by a very famous artist called Raphael. He painted it in 1509 and 1510.

The painting shows Mary with Jesus on her knee. The other child is John the Baptist. He's handing Jesus a flower called a carnation.

See Madonna and Child here and click on the zoom symbol. Can you see what's hovering around Jesus' head?

© The National Gallery, London.

Shows a painting of Mary, wearing blue and pink, with the naked Jesus on her lap and aother baby, John, at her feet handing Jesus a single red carnation.

Shows a very detailed painting with a stable and nativity scene in the centre, a host of angels fluttering overhead and people gathered below the stable embracing and worshipping the new baby Jesus.

This detailed, busy painting is by Sandro Botticelli and dates back to 1500. It's called Mystic Nativity and shows people and angels worshipping the new baby Jesus in the stable.

There's so much to look at it's hard to know where to start!

See Mystic Nativity here and click the zoom symbol to explore - how many animals can you count?

Take a look in the bottom right-hand corner too - what do you think those figures might represent?

© The National Gallery, London.

Francesco Francia painted this between about 1511 and 1517. It's called The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and other Saints.

The settting is very grand - not at all like the humble stable in Botticelli's picture. See Francia's painting here and click the zoom symbol to explore.

Can you work out which is Saint Anne?

© the National Gallery, London.

Shows a painting with Mary and Saint Anne at the centre,

Lastly, this beautiful picture was painted in about 1510 by Titian. Its name is The Holy Family with a Shepherd.

See Titian's painting here and click the zoom symbol to explore. See if you can see where the shepherd's left his sheep.

© The National Gallery, London.

If you've enjoyed looking at these beautiful paintings you can see more fantastic art in the Face It! game.

Why not see if you can get out and about to look at some pictures in an art gallery over the holidays? Lots of them are organising special Christmas activities for families.

Find out about galleries and museums near you here.

Please note: this article was first published in 2005.

Anra Kennedy