Naples’ Nativity scene at the White House

Naples' Nativity scene at White HouseA big Nativity scene from Naples is displayed every year at the White House.

Italy is certainly considered the most excellent country of art. But we often forget that there are not only the “major” art forms (painting, sculpture, architecture), but also “minor” ones: thousand kinds of manufactured small objects, for which a big artistic ability is needed as much as for the major arts. And Italy is the country of latter not less as of the first ones.

In the last 45 years the Eastern Room in the White House – its largest room – is dominated for Christmas by a special Crèche coming from Naples, Italy. It was donated in the late 60ies, but it was created in the 18th century. The Neapolitan Presepe has got its own style: all the characters are (hand) made in terracotta, while the landscape is in cork. Everything reminds Naples’ countryside and people and their usages in the 18th century in a typical Baroque taste.

The Presepi can be so valuable that even the Vatican has got one and displays it at every Christmas time. The same do the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

The Nativity artisans in Naples are active 12 months a year. Everyone can see their works sold directly in their workshops in via San Gregorio Armeno. In the heart of Naples a street full of colorful shepherds (pastori), landscapes’ reproductions, Mary and Joseph, ox and donkey. All year long, even in middle august, when all the rest in Italy is closed!

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