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Nativity Art Of Naples, Italy

Since the 18th century, Naples' artisan families have created their Neapolitan pastori figures in workshops on Via San Gregorio Armeno, an alley in the Centro Storico heart of Naples. Established under King Charles III, artisans made life-sized nativity figures carved of wood, destined for elaborate church displays. Over generations, they evolved to the smaller , terra cotta figures of today. The artisans fire them then hand-paint them and often clothe them in elaborate costumes. It’s an art form that blends sculpting, painting, fashion and tailoring. The Neapolitan Presepio (nativity scene) is Italy’s high art contribution to the world’s beloved Christmas traditions.

The renowned pottery artisans of Naples have been making their Neapolitan nativity figures, called pastori, in since the 18th century. In the early decades, the artworks were life-sized nativity figures carved of wood, created for elaborate church displays. Under the support of King Charles III, they evolved to the miniature terra cotta figures of today, an art form that blends sculpting, painting, fashion and tailoring. Today the Neapolitan pastori are a widely-known Naples Christmas tradition, renowned for their meticulous attention for detail. Figures are fired in terra-cotta, then hand-painted and often clothed in elaborate costumes. You will find the usual nativity figures here, the holy family, the three Magi, angels, donkeys and oxen. But in Naples, they love to arrange these figures in elaborate settings called Presepio-- medieval town squares, villages with thatched cottages and spinning water wheels.

READ MORE: The Neapolitan Nativity Scene.

The terra cotta and glass-domed figures we offer here are made completely by hand, in the workshop of Gambardella Pastori, located on Via. S. Gregorio Armeno in Napoli. This is a third-generation family workshop.


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Neapolitan Terracotta Market Lady "Venditrice di Aglio"
Market lady garlic seller, a terra cotta figurine, handcrafted in Naples, Italy by Di Virgilio workshop.
One-of-a-kind figurine measures 9 inches tall (23 cm) by 6 1/2" wide. Clothing is slightly soiled to give it the authentic look of an 18th century presepio figurine.
Neapolitan Terracotta Market Lady, Nativity Figurine
Terra-cotta figurine, dressed in soiled, hand-stitched clothing to resemble an 18th century market lady, is made in Naples by the Gambardella Pastori workshop.
One-of-a-kind figurine, hand-painted, with glass eyes, measures 9 inches tall (23 cm) by 6 1/2" wide.
SKU: PO-5_24
Neapolitan Terracotta Market Vendor, Nativity Figurine
Market worker, Neapolitan nativity figurine, purposely made to look old, with hand-crafted, soiled clothing. Made in Naples, Italy by Gambardella Pastori workshop.

One-of-a-kind figurine measures 9 inches (23 cm.) tall, including wooden base. Hand-painted, terracotta figurine has glass eyes.
SKU: PO-5_25
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