05/12/2022 Belén Napolitano del Palacio Real. CULTURA

The Royal Palace’s traditional Napolitano Nativity Scene, which is open for viewing starting on Tuesday, December 6, winks this year at the opening of the Gallery of Royal Collections in summer 2023 and the upcoming V Centenary of the conclusion of Juan Sebastián Elcano’s round of the Earth.

The legendary Bethlehem that started to take shape that the king Carlos III gave to his son, Carlos IV, has been kept for another year in the Hall of Alabarderos so that anybody can enjoy it without charge until the following January 8.

The set, which is made up of 200 new and original pieces, stands out this year because it depicts a group of people moving artwork into a gallery in reference to the upcoming opening of the Royal Collections Gallery, which will house the main works of National Heritage, as highlighted by the institution’s historian Miguel ngel Gacho in statements compiled by Europa Press.

To welcome them into the gallery, where a noblewoman is waiting, specific, typical figures of a group of men carrying paintings and sculptures have been put. This figure extols the collecting that was also done by women in the 18th century.

Another innovative aspect of the Bethlehem is the reference to Elcano’s 500-year journey, which is depicted by a figure of Elcano, boats, and a taste of spices delivered by the expedition’s sailor.

With these two scenarios serving as a novelty, Bethlehem is split into two sections: one that depicts the populous, with eateries, bookstores, markets, and the countryside; and another in which the nobility is exposed, with a classical park and the aforementioned gallery.


The scene of Jesus’ birth, which is on a hill and surrounded by angels, and underneath which the devil can be seen in a cave, serves as a dividing line between the two halves. Because “it is difficult to imagine good without evil,” as Gacho noted, Neapolitan nativity representations frequently feature the devil.

The historian has also emphasized that, “to convey a sense of perspective,” the assembly depicts the residents of Naples in the eighteenth century as figures of three distinct sizes.

These sculptures, whose heads are made of clay and whose hands and feet are made of wood, sport historical attire. The Three Wise Men are an example of the high nobility who wear silk robes, illustrating the disparities between them and the common people through their attire.

Gacho also called attention to the elephant that was included in the assembly as a nod to a historical incident that occurred in the 18th century. He claims that Carlos III received this animal, which had a “huge impression” on the populace. As is customary in Neapolitan nativity scenes, this animal was included to the tableau because it was handed to Carlos III and had such an impact on the populace.

The assembly is composed of original parts dating back to the reign of Carlos III and additional new parts that are now being bought in Naples. There are about 84 18th century pieces still in tact. “It is believed to have had a total of between 5,800 and 5,900 pieces at its height, at the end of Carlos IV’s reign. The infants had their own nativity tableau in addition to the prince’s “The historian has provided details.

The figurines from the era of Carlos III were purchased in Naples, while others from the reign of Carlos IV were commissioned from Valencian artists, as shown by invoices from the period, which National Heritage has been able to confirm.

Gacho, on the other hand, has emphasized how “difficult” the assembly process is. This time, it took a month and five weeks and involved the assistance of experts like painters, cabinetmakers, locksmiths, electricians, and gilders.

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