I wanted to capture the people that are bringing gifts. They are the poor people in the region all bringing their meager offerings to share with the homeless holy family: firewood, eggs, bread, flour, a cow with milk, water, and fruit; even a child has come to serenade them.
–John August Swanson
John August Swanson first painted Nativity as a watercolor in 1987, and based his 1988 serigraph on it. The serigraph followed Shepherds, 1985, and continued his Birth Narrative series:
Shepherds, 1985, Nativity, 1988,
Epiphany, 1988, A Visit, 1995,
Flight into Egypt, 2002,
and Presentation in the Temple, 2004.
Planned in 2017 as a companion piece to The Annunciation, this Nativity giclee has been sized to match that piece, and has warmer skin tones, gradations, and additional details in the plants and sky from Swanson’s other serigraphs, paintings, and sketches.
Nativity – History of the Image
In 2011, Swanson revisited Nativity, creating a one-of-one edition for Juan Diego Catholic High School in Salt Lake City, UT. The 1988 serigraph was scanned, and a single giclée was printed of the piece. Additional details were hand-painted on top of the print by Swanson for the school. A new digital record of the painted giclee was created by the Swanson Studio.
In 2017, the giclée edition The Annunciation was published. Swanson to consider the possibility of creating a new suite of giclee artworks depicting the birth narrative. The serigraph editions depicting those stories were largely unavailable, and the possibility or returning to those stories using the techniques and refinements he had developed in his years working with giclee printing was exciting.
This giclée edition has been sized to match the height of The Annunciation. Skin tones have been softened and warmed, as Swanson did in his one-of-one giclee for the artwork. Gradations have been refined, and additional details in the plants and sky from Swanson’s other serigraphs, paintings, and sketches have been introduced. Elements taken from the digital record of the Juan Diego work were moved, combined with a direct scan of the serigraph, and placed in the new giclée to ensure that there would be no image degradation. The giclée edition was completed in October, 2022.