Artist: Andrea Mantegna
Medium: Tempera on canvas
Size: 70.2 x 34.3 cm
Date: c. 1460
Location: The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me two turtle doves...
This stanza can be identified with either the pairing of the Old & New Testaments, or the two natures of Jesus: human and divine. Mantegna has chosen to represent the latter theme, with the infant Jesus portrayed in a decidedly un-childlike manner. Portraying Jesus in this manner depicts that he is aware of his divinity and still He chooses to remain as an infant. To further this point the artist shows Jesus’ right hand raised in the sign of blessing. This is obviously not something a normal infant would do and is meant to show that Jesus is more than just an infant. These and other similar symbols are used throughout the ages.