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Follower of Jacopo Bassano, The Adoration of the Shepherds

Key facts
Full title The Adoration of the Shepherds
Artist Follower of Jacopo Bassano
Artist dates active about 1535; died 1592
Date made about 1600-25
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 65.4 × 91.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Sir John May, 1847
Inventory number NG1858
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Adoration of the Shepherds
Follower of Jacopo Bassano

The Virgin lifts the white cloth covering the manger to reveal the newborn Jesus. The shepherds fall to their knees in adoration. One respectfully takes off his hat while another holds down the trussed lamb he has brought. A goat, ox and ass also gaze in wonder, as the first glimmers of dawn appear on the horizon.

The thatched wooden stable is built in the ruins of a classical building with huge stone columns. This symbolises the end of the old pagan order and the beginning of the new Christian era. The scene is illuminated by the bright light that radiates from the infant Christ himself.

A little shepherd boy with bare buttocks sits on the stone steps blowing on a burning stick. This glowing ember forms a third light source in the painting but it is much fainter than the light coming from Christ.

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