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The Nativity: M.41 & A-1904

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


The Nativity


Maker: Reymond, Pierre (Probably)




Rectangular copper plaque with arched top, decorated with polychrome enamels, and gilded. The Virgin kneels on the right before a wattled crib, and St Joseph holding a candle enters from the left through a doorway.

Rectangular convex copper plaque with arched top, enamelled on a white ground in dark blue, turquoise, yellow, pink, mulberry, brown, black, grey and white, and gilded. The reverse has clear counter-enamel.The Nativity is shown in an open loggia with a timber roof supported by a column. The Christ Child lies in the centre behind a turquoise wattled fence, watched by an ox and ass behind a similar fence. Mary kneels on the right with her hands together in prayer. She has fair hair, and wears a dark blue cloak over a mulberry dress. Joseph approaches through the door of a grey building on the left, raising his cap with his right hand and carrying a candle in his left. He has grey hair and beard, a blue hat, a mulberry tunic, and yellow boots (only one visible). The foreground is turquoise and in the background there are turquoise trees. The dark blue sky is scattered with gold stars, among which is one large star with rays. There are gold lines running round the door of the building, the edges of Mary’s cloak, and the edge of the candle, and the timbers of the roof are heavily gilded. The plaque has carved wooden frame (A) in the form of a tabernacle with a half-figure of God the Father above the pediment with a shell-shaped niche above, and a winged cherub's head between foliated scrolls at the bottom. A rectangle in the middle of the pediment and a horizontal line above the lower moulding are gilded.


History note: Uncertain before testator

Legal notes

Frank McClean Bequest

Place(s) associated

  • Limoges ⪼ Haute Vienne ⪼ France

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1904) by McClean, Frank


Second quarter of 16th century
Circa 1535 CE - 1545 CE


Dalton considered that the plaque recalled enamels by 'Jean Courtois'. Marquet de Vasselot in April 1911 described it as 'A late work of the atelier of Pierre Reymond'. Bernard Rackham on 20 January 1921 recorded his view that it might be an early Pierre Reymond, which is the current view.

The scene has some similarities with two Nativity plaques in the Victoria and Albert Museum (482-1899) and ADD

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamel ( dark blue,turquoise, yellow, pink, mulberry, brown, black, and white) gold
Frame composed of wood Height 22.2 cm Width 10.1 cm
Plaque Height 10.4 cm Width 8.1 cm

Materials used in production


Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: rectangular paper label with cut corners and blue border, crossed by two lines and inscribed in faded black ink

  • Text: '5430/cod '[?] or 'cou' with a curved upward flourish/16004' and '69'
  • Location: Applied to the centre of the back
  • Method of creation: Printed in blue hand-written in faded black ink
  • Type: Label

Inscription present: rectangular white paper label

  • Text: BEQUEATHED BY/FRANK MCCLEAN/M.A.: F.R.S: F.R.A.S:/ of Trinity College/November MDCCCCIV
  • Location: On back of frame
  • Method of creation: Printed in black
  • Type: Label
  • Text: Frame/of/Dalton/69
  • Location: On back below the other label
  • Method of creation: Hand-written in black ink
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.41 & A-1904
Primary reference Number: 156427
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Thursday 11 August 2016 Last processed: Thursday 8 April 2021

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "The Nativity" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-01-29 16:22:04

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{{cite web|url= |title=The Nativity |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2023-01-29 16:22:04|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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