The Antinori family nativity scene is a masterpiece of the central-southern sacred art of the end of the 17th century, brought back to light by the researchers Giacomo and Gaetano De Crecchio. The eighteen figures exhibited have been restored in Naples, thanks to a funding provided by the Ministry of Heritage and Culture, by Antonio Catone and his wife, Maria Costabile.

The Antinori nativity scene possesses 108 pieces: 84 are shepherds, 46-68 cm tall, and 24 are animals.

Belonged for seventy years to the family of Antonio Ludovico Antinori, Archbishop of L’Aquila and epigraphist, it was then inherited by Luigi Stella Maranca of Lanciano. Due to the extinction of the family members, it was previously guarded by the nuns of “Sacri Cuori di Gesù e Maria” and later by the friars of the convent “Sant’Angelo della Pace”.

The characters are a unique treasure that represents the transition from the wooden statues to those of the Napolitan 18th century: carved in wood with the same technique used to build dummies, in order to achieve limbs mobility, they symbolize the 17th century prosperous bourgeoisie, finely dressed and adorned.

Clothes are hand-sewn, decorated with tombolo and macramé lace. Socks are foot-shaped with toe and heel.  Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and Holy Child are dressed in damask and Armenian clothes; Saint Joseph’s crown, tiara and stick are silver made. A particular attention is focused on details, visible in the representation of the goiter, due to the lack of vitamins in the nutrition of that time.

The entire collection has been photographed, catalogued and described in the book “I pastori che dormono” (the sleeping shepherds) by Giacomo and Gaetano de Crecchio, published by Rocco Carabba publishing house. The precious collection belongs to “Provincia di San Bonaventura” of the order of Friars Minor and it is guarded in Sant’ Antonio convent in Lanciano.

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