Carved and lacquered wooden horse for a Nativity

Carved and lacquered wooden horse for a Nativity

Genoese art

first quarter XVIII century

43 x 41 cm.


The art of reproducing the nativity scene is linked to an ancient tradition in Italy. Three cities are particularly famous for their presepi: Bologna, Naples and Genoa.

The Bolognese tradition dates back to the 13th century, and it is different from other nativity scenes realized in Italy because all characters are entirely hand carved, including their clothes. Various materials can be employed, from terracotta to paper, from wood to plaster, depending on the craftsman’s ability.

The Neapolitan nativity scene, traditionally set in the 18th century Naples, is characterized by terracotta shepherds.

The Genoese school of the nativity scene is well-established and prestigious as well, thanks to the accurate craftsmanship and precious materials, from wood to ceramic or paper, used to finish off the figures’ details such as clothes and faces. The golden era for the Genoese tradition was the first quarter of the 18th century, when reproductions of the cave in Bethlehem and the nativity characters weren’t hosted only in churches but also in the houses of nobles and bourgeois, causing the proliferation of shops specialized in the notching of Genoese wood.

Giannettino Luxoro was an art collector from Genoa at the beginning of XX century.

The building of the Luxoro Museum, as well as its furnishings, became the property of the Municipality of Genoa in 1946, thanks to the legacy of its last owner, Matteo. Without any direct heir, he ordered its transformation into a public museum in memory of his nephew Giannettino Luxoro, who had died prematurely during World War I.

Located in an elegant 17th-18th century Genoese villa in Nervi, the collections of the Luxoro family have been on display in this museum since 1951, including paintings, furniture, décor, ceramics, silver, mirrors, carved frames, and antique fabrics, as well as a series of valuable objects, mostly of Ligurian production, dating to the 17th and 18th centuries.

Of particular note is the collection of nativity figurines from the 17th and 18th centuries, and the collection of antique timepieces and pendulum clocks, including a set of rare nocturnals, among which the majestic models created by the Roman workshop of the Campani brothers at the end of the 17th century stand out.