This circular tempera and oil painting shows the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph at the birth of the Christ Child. To our left, the Virgin Mary is seen kneeling and wearing a red dress, a blue and green robe about her shoulders and a transparent veil covering her long red-blonde hair. She has light skin. Her slender hands are clasped in prayer and she gazes peacefully at the Christ Child. To our left is St. Joseph, who is light-skinned and bearded with gray hair, wearing a light purple robe and a yellow shawl. He bends down to cradle the Christ Child who is nestled on the ground in the fabric of St. Joseph’s shawl and Mary’s cape. The Christ Child appears in a gauzy covering. He has light skin and light hair and holds his left hand to his mouth. Behind them to our right are two male figures. One figure is a light-skinned man with a short beard. He appears in profile, holding his hand to his head. The other figure has a fuzzy black animal draped across his shoulders. He has light skin and curly brown hair. He looks downwards. He is wearing a reddish robe and white leg coverings. The beams of a structure are visible behind the five figures and a peaceful landscape is visible through these beams. The landscape includes a body of water, shrubs, trees, and mountains. There are off-white clouds visible in the light blue sky.
Isabella Stewart Gardner kept meticulous records of many of her acquisitions. In keeping with this legacy, object information is continually being reviewed, updated, and enriched in order to give greater access to the collection.