Christmas Cards – Classic Paintings

[Logbook Chapters]

We decided to do a series of Christmas cards using classic paintings.
The format is: Famous Painting [Cover]; “Merry Christmas” [Second Inside Page]; Information about Painting [Back page]

[Here’s our Christmas card collection on our Zazzle site: Christmas Cards. Here’s our Zazzle site: Pure Love Industries. We sell these cards, T-shirts, mugs, pizzaz.]

Here are the cards:

1. Caravaggio’s “Nativity with St. Francis & St. Lawrence”

Saints gathered round; an angel overhead; the baby in his mother's lap.
Caravaggio’s Nativity, painted around 1600.

About the Image:
Title / Date: Nativity with St. Francis & St. Lawrence / 1600? 1609?
Artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571 – 1610)
Caravaggio trained in Milan, worked in Rome, moved to Naples to escape a death sentence (for killing someone in a fight), bounced then to Malta, which he fled after imprisonment for wounding another man (this time a knight) in another fight, ending up for a time in Sicily, before heading back to Naples and then, believing a papal pardon secure, back to Rome. He died on the way to Rome of a fever or something in 1610. Maybe he painted his Nativity in Rome in 1600 or in Sicily in 1609. The painting added two anachronistic saints to the manger scene: St. Francis of Assissi (1182 – 1226; Italian friar; born rich but chose pauperdom; travelled the world spreading the Word; founded the Franciscan order; patron saint of animals) and (hey, why not while you’re at it??) St. Lawrence (born AD 225 in Valencia, then part of Roman Spain; made a deacon of Rome AD 257, martyred 258 for thumbing his nose at Emperor Valerian’s demand of the church’s wealth [he gave it all away]). In 1969 someone stole this priceless masterpiece from the Oratory of St. Lawrence and is currently number 2 on the FBI’s list of most wanted art crimes (after the looted Iraqi treasures).
Author: B. Willard / Copyright: AM Watson / Visit:

2. Bruegel’s “The Census at Bethlehem”

A small 1560s Dutch village in winter. Mary rides a donkey towards a crowded shack.
Bruegel’s “The Census at Bethlehem”

About the Image:

Title / Date: The Census at Bethlehem / 1566
Artist: Pieter Bruegel the Older (ca 1525 – 1569)
Oil on wood. This depiction of the nativity scene transmogrified into a 1500s Brabant (region in the Netherlands now part of the Flemish speaking side of Belgium) was painted during the artist’s years in Brussels. Is the chaotic (note the pig-riding and -slaughtering) and crowded scene a critique of Habsburgh Spain (rulers of the Low Countries from 1482 until several Dutch provinces shook them to form The Dutch Republic in 1581)? Of bureaucracy? Of the Romans in first century Palestine? Or is this just a typical winter day in 1566 Netherlands plus the Virgin Mary riding a donkey to the census? What are we to make of this magical combination of realities? Imaging temporally and spatially distant biblical stories as taking place in your own time and place can help to bring them to life. But none of us now live in a small Dutch village in 1566. So then what happens? We’re removed and removed again; we drift off into space, spinning slowly against a starry infinity.
Since 1902, the painting’s lived in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium (Brussels).
Author: B. Willard / Copyright: AM Watson / Visit:

3. Anonymous Nativity Scene in Cappello Palatina Palermo

Dark colors; Mary and babe in center; Joseph off to one side, looking away; wise men riding in; angels above them; figures disjointed and flat.
A Nativity Scene Painted in the Palace Chapel in Palermo (1150)

About the Image:

Title / Date: “Nativity Scene in Cappello Palatina Palermo” / 1150
Artist: Unknown
Born of the commingling of Viking raiders/settlers and the Tenth Century natives of Normandy (Northern France; across the Channel from England), the Normands famously took control of England in 1066 AD. Less well-known are their conquests of Southern Italy and Sicily, which evolved from 999-1139 AD (victory short-lived: Sicily fell to the Hohenstaufen’s in 1198 AD).
This nativity scene, painted in 1150 AD by Maestro Unknown, can still be seen in the Cappello Palatina Palermo, the chapel of the Norman Kings of Sicily, located inside the Palazzo dei Normanni (Palace of the Normans) in Palermo, Sicily.
You should go there! And check it out! I would, but the life of a scribe lacks both the funds and the wild, dragonflight adventuresomeness requisite such adventures.
Author: B. Willard / Copyright: AM Watson / Visit:

4. Rembrandt’s “Dream of Joseph”

A dark, brown-tones manger is lit by an angel hovering over the slump-sleeping Joseph's shoulders; Mary in blue is off to the other side, leaning against the straw manger.
Joseph is visited by an angel in a dream.

About the Image:

Title / Date: “Dream of Joseph” / 1645
Artist: Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606 – 1669)
Oil on wood. Joseph had thought to quietly divorce the pregnant Mary, but an angel visited him in a dream and explained the miraculous circumstances. Is that what Rembrandt is here depicting? If so, the timeline’s a little off; because in this picture Mary’s already given birth to Jesus, and the little family’s sleepy in the rough-hewn gloom. Perhaps for the sake of narrative efficacy, Rembrandt’s smushed different moments into one. Or maybe Joseph isn’t dreaming the dream recorded in Matthew 1:20-21, but another one. Could it be that Rembrandt envisions Joseph receiving regular angelic words of encouragement to help him through those extraordinary circumstances?
Visit the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin to see the painting for real.
Author: B. Willard / Copyright: AM Watson / Visit:

[Here’s our Christmas card collection on our Zazzle site: Christmas Cards. Here’s our Zazzle site: Pure Love Industries. We sell these cards, T-shirts, mugs, pizzaz.]

Author: B Willard of Pure Love Industries
Editor: Amble Whistletown
Copyright: AM Watson


This Logbook becomes a chapter book at Logbook of a Pure Love Mogul: Chapters

Author: Bartleby Willard
Editor: Amble Whistletown
Copyright: AM Watson