I went to the Art Institute of Chicago on Sunday just because I hadn’t been in a long time, and wanted to see something beautiful. None of the nieces and nephews were around, so off to the Art Institute I went. I visited the African, European, American and several other galleries in which I just drank it all in. I could have stayed there all day, but couldn’t. I was about to call it a day when one of the docents suggested I go have a look at a crèche. I was tempted to say no, but she was practically swooning over it, so I went. We’ve all seen crèches before — they’re those models of the nativity scene you might see in someone’s front yard at Christmas, or in church. What I saw on Sunday, however, a Neopolitan crèche, is something altogether different. I’ve never seen anything like it. A Neopolitan crèche is apparently “a unique tradition of Naples, Italy where artists and artisans over the centuries transformed the staging of the Christian Nativity scene into an elaborate art form that existed nowhere else.”
All I can say about the one I saw on Sunday is that it is simply amazing. The figurines and miniatures were so realistic and detailed, I stood there in awe and with my mouth open. I couldn’t walk away from it. The Art Institute’s crèche dates back to the mid 18th century, and God it is something to look at. I left the building wishing I’d seen it first. I’d have spent all of my allotted time in front of it that day. I’ve posted more pictures of the different scenes below so you can see why.