The Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial celebrates the yuletide season with an installation of a traditional Italian presepio in Fleisher’s lobby at 719 Catharine Street in South Philadelphia. Hours for the presepio are 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Fleisher will be closed for the holidays on December 22–25 and December 30, 2006–January 2, 2007—however, when the lobby is closed, the display will be illuminated and visible through the lobby windows facing Palumbo Park.
The Neapolitan presepio is a representation of the Christmas nativity scene, set in a theatrical 18th-century version of the famous Italian city, Naples. In this elaborate setting of classical ruins, you will not only find the traditional shepherds but also vendors, farmers, trades people, peasants, and members of high society—all going about their daily business seemingly unaware of the birth of the Christ child in their midst. The members of the Holy Family, the Magi, and the Angels are the only figures related to the biblical story. The other figures reflect daily life in Naples, which was also an international port populated by many exotic visitors—Africans, Samaritans, Arabs, and Asians.
This presepio is made up of more than a hundred pieces collected by the late Elizabeth Evans and was donated to the Fleisher Art Memorial by her sisters, Marcia Evans and Suzanne Hoyle-Rhodes. Ms. Evans spent more than thirty years collecting these amazing late 19th- and early 20th-century ceramic figurines during her annual visits to Italy.
To learn more about Fleisher’s Neapolitan presepio, please come in and discover this traditional Italian art form.
About the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial
The Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial is best known as the country’s oldest and largest free and low-tuition visual arts program for adults and children. Founded as the Graphic Sketch Club in 1898, Fleisher has been a vital educational resource that includes instruction in the visual arts, exhibitions, concerts, and interpretation of its historic buildings and permanent collection. The Fleisher Art Memorial has been administered by the Philadelphia Museum of Art since the death of Samuel S. Fleisher in 1945.
Fleisher’s programs are supported in part by the Samuel S. Fleisher Trust, grants from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Independence Foundation, the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the Philadelphia Cultural Leadership Program funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Philadelphia Foundation, and donations from more than 2,000 student members and friends.