Nativity Scenes are a Catholic demonstration that began in the 13rd century and reached its peak in Naples in 1734, under the reign of the future Carlos III of Spain and followed by his son Ferdinand. They both promoted this tradition in their Capodimonte Palace. Nativity Scenes were conceived as a complex ephemeral expression and annually celebrated. Around this tradition, there was a whole craft activity of great wealth and imagination, deeply rooted in the promotion of applied arts and manufactures by monarchs of the Enlightenment.
The scenes of the Nativity Scene are inspired by biblical texts and Christian legends. These scenes combine popular life and noble ceremony, the manners and the exotic, cultured reference or fantasy. Nativity ends up being reduced to a scene.
It is nearly composed by two hundred figures covering the full range of characters and types: the Sagrada Familia, the angelic choir, the Three Wishes Men and their splendid oriental entourage. There are also pastors, dapper bourgeois people, artisans, vendors, farmer, gypsies and a beggar. Also, pets and accessories (finimenti) contribute to the variegation and to the vital disorder of the composition.