The Nativity Scene in Italian Art – 2

Neapolitan Nativity Scene
Neapolitan Nativity Scene

In Naples, where the most elaborate creations eventually took place, we have a record of a Presepe given by Queen Sancia to the Poor Clares in 1370.  Development was subsequently rapid, with artists such as Giovanni and Pietro Alemanno and Giovanni da Nola.  The Presepe became mobile, based on wooden sculptures crafted to scale.  Artisans became ever more skilled in creating the “pastori”, eventually adding articulated limbs, wigs, glass eyes, lifelike bare skin.  At the same time the background was developing, the setting became important.  Perspective and special illumination were used, decorative elements were added, attention was paid to colors and the use of reflective surfaces.  In effect the Presepe outstripped its original function of representing  the bare Nativity, and became an artistic ideal in its own right, becoming more and more secularized in the process.  The scope of the representation also expanded: it was now not just the shepherds  and the Magi who came to worship the newborn Christ, but people from all walks of life, the baker, the butcher, the candle-maker…, all in the typical dress of their day and trade.

The Nativity scene is of course represented in very many countries all over the world, and it is fascinating to see how native cultural elements are incorporated into the Diversorium.  The pastori exhibit local physiognomies and local dress, architectural elements echo the architecture of the country, vegetation and other decorative elements are modeled after local examples.  The fidelity that is lost in giving up the attempt to represent the Palestinian landscape of 2000 years ago is more than made up for by the ecumenical union of all believers and by the implicit declaration that the event represented transcends any local characterization and holds a message for all mankind.

In Naples, particularly, we find that unique blend of classicism and religious art that had swept the Peninsula since the Quattrocento.  Thus, a Neapolitan Presepe may depict the grotto of the Nativity next to Roman columns, with the Vesuvio in the background and perhaps even the sea, Naples’ sea, somewhere in the scene.  Today the most spectacular collection of Presepi is found at the Museo di San Martino in Naples.  In these examples, rich in baroque detail and symbolism, some of the figures may be arrayed in valuable cloth and may be wearing real jewels.

The artistic/religious theme began to wane in the 19th century, and the Presepe became a commercial commodity, within reach of most families who wanted to recreate the Nativity scene, in a more or less simplified form, in their own homes.  Today one can buy most representational elements in a wide variety of sizes and assemble them at home – typically a joyous activity that involves the whole family.  A famous street in Naples, San Gregorio Armeno, houses most Neapolitan Presepe artisans, and the neighborhood comes alive every Christmas as hordes of Neapolitans and tourists alike prowl the shops in search of pastori, I Re Magi, il Bue e l’Asinello, the Angels, il Bebe’, and perhaps the Tavern-Keeper and the Shoe Maker.

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Why Italians Produce Much Of The Best Art In History

Art and Artists of Italy

statuaRomana Italian PaintingAccording to some astonishing statistics about the country and its art, sixty percent of artwork and artisans in the world belong to Italy.  A known study illustrates that the knowledge and understanding of Italian art and artists by an average Italian is often better than that of students of art from any other nation.   Art is part of the heritage of Italy as if it were  in the Italian blood, and every town seems to be able to lay claim to some famous artist.

Featuring the work of extraordinary Italian artists

The art featured on Finest Italian is part of an effort to make the products of  the hard work and talent of Italian artists known and available to the whole world. The website includes the work of Italian painting masters and of young talented artists who have a strong and rich background in the traditions of Italian art. The website evaluates and promotes only those artists who have made substantial contributions in Italian art, thus bringing the best of Italian artwork right on your doorsteps.

Immense work of Italian Artists

Artists and painters of Italy, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance period, up to contemporary times, have successfully made significant contributions to the world’s artistic patrimony. Browsing through the website,  you will be struck with wonder and admiration by their collective artistic prowess. Every culture has made its contribution and left its mark on the artistic patrimony of the world, but Italian artists continue to amaze with their inventiveness, their skill in execution, their mastery of ancient techniques, and with the passion they always manage to infuse into each and every work of art.

Italian work symbolizing an ancient culture

Many of the “-isms” of modern art trace their origin to trends and movements in Italian art.  The current of artistic development in the West begins with Cimabue and Giotto, crests in the Florentine Quattrocento, and repeatedly subdivides through the baroque and mannerist periods to give us the multiform fashions of modernism.  Italian works of art in your home are not just art qua art, but milestones along the extraordinarily rich and convoluted historical pathways  that have led us to the artistic paradigms of our day.

Ever growing collection of Italian paintings and other artwork

Finest Italian is proud to bring you a small sampling of this rich artistic tradition.  Our offerings include original renderings of seascapes, landscapes and cityscapes, immediately recognizable as Italian.  We bring you beautiful and practical ceramics originally designed and executed by hand, nostalgic black and white artistic photos that evoke the mystique of this country that has meant so much to the world, silver and glass wrought into elegant and unique shapes by dedicated artisans, and much more.  We are constantly expanding our selections and seeking out new artists to add to our community.  And we bring you all this with an eminently practical twist: our community of artists is composed of members who predominantly live and work in the United States.  So you can purchase your very own piece of Italy from us without the uncertainties of fluctuating currency exchange rates, without the perils and expense of overseas shipping, without a language barrier, and without complex return or exchange rules.

So go ahead and browse through our pages, feast your eyes, and when you are ready place your order.  We promise you an enjoyable and satisfying shopping experience.

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