Park Avenue and Forty-seventh Street isn’t one of the places where gallery-goers usually make a stop; but it was worth the detour in December and early January, when the Banco di Napoli had up a display of the eighteenth-century Neopolitan Crib figures, which are called pastori. More than fifty examples, each between a foot and two high, all with elegantly carved heads and hands and elaborate costumes, were gathered together into a scene of the kind that some aristocratic Neopolitan families created in their homes two hundred years ago. This Neopolitan Crib, called a presepio, is the product of a secular sensibility; and the Nativity and Angels and Three Kings play a fairly small role, enveloped as they are by a panorama of figures representing the local low life and tradespeople as well as the exotic types who were described in the travel literature, of the time. According to a catalogue privately...

 

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