A Final Look At Christus Natus Est

First Stained Glass Window

First Stained Glass Window

Second Version of the Stained Glass Window

Second Version of the Stained Glass Window

I promised a look at the development of the “Christus Natus Est” design, so here is the very first version, much more traditionally representative in style, made by my mother when I was a little girl, for the window over the stairs in the first house I remember.

When we moved house, there was no window that the first version could fill, so she designed another, this time to fit in a living room window. It is much simpler and more stylised, but I think you can see that in both versions the primary impression is one of the protecting care of the Holy Family.

Christus Natus Est, by Steve Williamson

Christus Natus Est, by Steve Williamson

Then, about four years ago, she did a version in oils, for an exhibition at a local gallery that had the theme “Memorable Dates”. Somehow the design came into vivid life in the painting – she says it came together much more easily than many of her paintings do, but in this version, the Christ Child needs no protection, instead the Light of the World blazes fiercely, incandescent with power and authority.

The Saviour Is Born!

The Saviour Is Born!

I expect it is a surprise to none of you, having seen that progression, that I decided I wanted to do my own interpretation. As I’ve said before, I think my version is quieter and more subdued. It has a sense of stillness and purpose, perhaps, the outstretched arms of the Christ Child already prefiguring the Crucifixion, with none of the exaltation of the heavenly choirs.

If, unlike me, you believe that an artist’s work reflects their state of mind, you might be worried about that. Don’t be. Beethoven wrote some of his most joyous music when he was already profoundly deaf and acutely depressed, and while I would not in any other way expect to be bracketed with the great man, my embroidery never has anything to do with my emotional state!


  1. coral-seas says:

    It is lovely to see all four versions and they are all lovely. I can indeed see why you would want to do your own interpretaion. I think your version has an air of tenderness to it.

  2. Penny B says:

    Yes, a gentle tenderness. It’s beautiful Rachel. Perfect timing for those who follow the old calendar and will be celebrating Christmas tomorrow.

  3. Penny says:

    You’ve made a tradition come alive by following your Mother’s design but creating it in stitches. I think that stitching often presents itself as more ‘down to earth’ than perhaps the transparency of glass or even water color. All of these are beautiful!

  4. Elmsley Rose says:

    WoW! What a history to your piece!!!!
    I love the stained glass and oil versions.

    I’ve got my copy on the fridge 🙂

  5. Carol (DrMom) says:

    Really beautiful work, Rachel and Mum! I am in awe!

  6. Interesting to see the progression of your Mum’s designs, and then to see your interpretation.

  7. Knowing the process behind a piece adds so much more meaning to it. Not only for the artist but the viewer as well.

  8. Like all good designs, it works well in every medium you show here. I particularly like the stained glass window.

  9. karen says:

    this is so informative, seeing the progression of a piece and different interpretations of it…amazing.

  10. I so enjoyed reading the background to this piece, fascinating stuff. What a wonderful design in all it’s variations.

  11. Lady Fi says:

    Wow – so beautiful! I do love the light in that second version of the stained glass window.

  12. Alex says:

    I love the second stained glass window and the way the Christ Child blazes in the oil painting is wonderful and then there is a real sense of stillness in your or nue piece. The progression is fascinating.

  13. Janice says:

    I loved your mum’s oil painting when I first saw it several months ago, and I still do. But I love equally the stained glass version – really like the lines forming the star. And now, seeing all three together – stained glass, oils and or nué, it’s fascinating to see the impact of medium on the same design.

  14. Jan says:

    So glad you showed all the various versions of this piece. Yours is a superb addition and I love it!

  15. Susan says:

    I love this post. This piece is a wonderful manifestation of tradition and message within your family. It’s very powerful to see all the versions…and to see your Mum’s and yours side by side is terrific. Congratulations. Your family must love it!

  16. Alice and Sarah Bowen says:

    How lovely to see your fabulous embroidery of the lovely Christus Natus Est, it is really beautiful. We bought the oil painting from your exhibition and absolutely love it. We hope you are are all well.
    Best wishes, Alice and Sarah