The Nativity (1887)

The Nativity window depicts the birth of Jesus. This is positioned opposite The Crucifixion window in the cathedral. This positioning highlights the contrast and anguish of the two events. Wealthy Birmingham resident Emma Chadwick Villers-Wilkes paid for both these windows, and 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. They have expressions of shock and fear. Two of the three shepherds shield their eyes from the brightness of the angels. Intricately painted leafless trees are behind the shepherds.

The figures in the Nativity wear warm jewel tones. 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, swaddled in cloth, who is the focal point of the work. He is lying a stone above a shallow pool of water. This 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. This draw attention to the purity and innocence of the infant.