Grotte de la Nativité: la crêche—Cave of the Nativity: the manger

Accession Number

Grotte de la Nativité: la crêche—Cave of the Nativity: the manger

Felix Bonfils

Artist Nationality
French (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
circa 1867-1885

Medium & Support
albumen print on paper

10 15/16 in x 14 in (27.78 cm x 35.56 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Margaret and Howard Bond

Subject matter
This photograph provides a view inside the manger from the biblical story of the Nativity. Areas of dark shadow along the edges of the image, along with the low-hanging damask textiles that form the ceiling of this cramped nook, lend a claustrophobic feeling. Five hanging lamps peek through a metal grate on the far wall in the center of the photograph. A horizontal panel painting of winged putti holding a long banner with a Latin inscription is tucked up in a corner near the fabric ceiling. A massive stone column acts like a sentry along the right-hand side of the picture. We look in as though peeking into a secret chamber, a place hidden-away which has now been exposed by the bright lamps of the photographer. This image is one of hundreds of photographs made throughout Bonfils' career which purport to document various landscapes, cityscapes, and people of the eastern Mediterranean.

Physical Description
This photograph shows an up-close view of a nook, the walls and ceilings of which are composed of draping damask fabric. Five metal lamps hang behind a grate in the center of the image; another similar cage comes out of the shadows to the left. 

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

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churches (buildings)
engaged columns
historic structures
interior views
travel photography

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted