The Nativity (1887)

The Nativity window depicts the birth of Jesus, and is positioned opposite The Crucifixion window in the cathedral, highlighting the contrast and anguish of the two events. Both these windows were both paid for by wealthy Birmingham resident Emma Chadwick Villers-Wilkes, who specifically requested that there should be no oxen in the Nativity scene, as she considered them to be too brutish.

At the feet of the angels is a flock of sheep, attended by a group of shepherds with expressions of shock and fear. Two of the three shepherds shield their eyes from the brightness of the angels. The trees behind the shepherds are painted in intricate detail and the leafless branches indicate the scene is set in the winter months.

The figures in the Nativity are clothed in jewel tones adding great warmth to the image. Mary the mother of Jesus kneels before the Christ child. Joseph and three angels stand to the right, bowing in reverence.

The figures curve inwards, framing the delicate depiction of baby Jesus who is the focal point of the work. Swaddled in cloth, he is positioned on a stone above a shallow pool of water which heightens the vulnerability of the scene. The white of the cloth and halo of the Christ child contrast with the dank, dark interior of the cave, drawing attention to the purity and innocence of the infant.