Caravaggio and Rembrandt
This Nativity of Mercy is unique. There is simply no other work of art, no other representation of Jesus’ birth with the same characteristics. It is possible to admire the figurines inspired by “The Seven Works of Mercy” painted by Caravaggio.
This large painting –of which the copy is exposed at the Basilica of Old Saint Patrick– was produced in Naples by Caravaggio as a veritable hymn of mercy with the seven scenes of virtue. In the Nativity crib it is possible to recognize Saint Martin of Tour who gives his cloth to a sick, naked man (visit the sick; cloth the naked); then to the right a daughter is giving food to his father in prison (reference to an old Roman story of pietas involving Cimone and Pero); Samson drinking from the jawbone of an ass (to give drink to the thirsty); the porters with the body in the back (to bury the dead). The last corporal work of mercy, welcome the stranger is symbolized by a boat that landed on a coast, full of children of all ethnic groups extending their arms in search of warmth.