The Madonna and Child has been a popular subject of art since the Renaissance. The portrayals of Mary with her infant Son were objects of devotion. To learn more, see this article on Madonna and Child artwork from the National Gallery of Art:
Not surprisingly, every year depictions of the Madonna and Child are among the most popular of our Christmas cards.
However, we also get one or two notes or calls each year from people who are offended by the depiction of the infant Jesus in the nude. If this style of art shocks or offends you, please choose from one of our other designs. But know that this way of depicting our Lord has a long history, and is not meant in any way to offend. It comes from a less sexualized culture which viewed children as innocent and pure. In particular, the portrayal of Christ nude emphasizes his true humanity.
Furthermore, the addition of a halo or nimbus around Christ’s head (not present in all depictions) indicates his divinity. Often, when Christ appears in art with other saints, his nimbus incorporates a cross while the others do not. This distinguishes divinity from human sanctity.
Many depictions of Mary and Jesus focus on their humility and humanity. This kind of imagery makes them more accessible. Take this American piece, for example:
Religious Christmas art makes people feel connected with God. They can relate to images of a mother and child. Some prefer more traditional images that emphasize the sacred. Others prefer more human, “homey” images. Some like paintings, while others like mosaics. Some like icons or stained glass-style images. Whatever your taste in art, The Printery House has a religious Christmas card for you!