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20th Century American Art

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The Nativity

12 1/2 x 25 1/4 x 7/8 in. (31.8 x 64.1 x 2.2 cm)

Oliver Cheatham
American

Object Type: Sculpture
Medium and Support: Wood and paint
Credit Line: Gift of Reverend David W. Romig
Accession Number: 1999.15
Link to this object
Location: Not currently on view

The nativity of Christ has been a popular subject in many artistic traditions. Here, the carver has included all the traditional elements arranged in a simple yet effective way, using few colors and creating the illusion of depth. Gold paint illuminates the baby, above whom an angel watches protectively.

Like the carver of the Santo [73.9], or the artisan who built the Tramp Art Shrine [87.4], Oliver Cheatham was an artist who expressed his religious devotion with wood and paint. Little else is known about him. The donor, Reverend Romig, came across a few pieces of his work on a sidewalk in New York City; the artist had died, and his family was throwing his things away. Fortunately, Reverend Romig recognized the beauty of the work, retrieved what he could, and kindly donated two pieces to the Memorial Art Gallery: The Nativity and The Last Supper [99.14], which is being conserved.

[Gallery label text, 2002]

Provenance
Rev. David W. Romig, Rochester; his gift to the Gallery in 1999

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