Luca Baudo - inv. 1542

Luca Baudo (c. 1460/1465-1510)

The Nativity
150 x 63 cm
signature and date
"1501 / LUCE OPUS"
1879 bequest Gian Giacomo Poldi Pezzoli
Inv. 1542

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The Virgin, Saint Joseph and an angel are worshipping Jesus who lies naked in a manger, warmed by the breath of an ox and a donkey. The scene is framed by partially ruined, classical architecture, symbolising the end of the ancient world with the birth of the Redeemer and the proclamation of the new Christian message. Two portraits of Roman emperors in profile appear high up, each side of the arch. A peaceful and bright maritime landscape opens up in the background, where a coastal town and several boats setting sail can be glimpsed.
The work was signed and dated in 1501 by Luca Baudo, who played a leading role on Genoa's art scene. The way the figures are arranged in the painting, in a staggered fashion, reflect the artist's knowledge of Flemish models, widespread at that time in Liguria.

The painting was the central panel of a triptych. The side panels still exist and show Saint Eligius and Saint Ampelio, they are in the Diocesan Museum of Albenga. If the three panels were placed side by side one could see how the beautiful seaside landscape, which continues from one to the other, confers unity on the altarpiece.
Commissioned by the guild of the blacksmiths and goldsmiths of Albenga, the triptych was originally placed on an altar in the town's cathedral.