Skip to main content
The Adoration of the Shepherds with Angels
Lorenzo Costa
/

This extraordinary painting is a unique depiction of the Adoration of the Shepherds. The Virgin Mary, Joseph and two shepherds cluster round the infant Christ; the ox and the donkey peer out of the darkness behind them. They are not, however, in a stable in Bethlehem, but gathered in front of a verdant grotto. Two trumpeting angels stand on the rocky outcrops while a host of angels overhead hold the instruments of the Passion (Christ’s torture and crucifixion). The scene is flanked by nine choirs of angels on clouds, who play drums, tambourines, portable organs, lyres and pipes.

This painting was probably made at the very end of the fifteenth century, a date which might help explain its meaning. It was commonly believed that the year 1500 – one and a half thousand years after the birth of Christ – would be marked by some kind of divine intervention in the world, an idea which might have been behind this very unusual painting.

Key facts
Artist Lorenzo Costa
Artist dates 1460 - 1535
Full title The Adoration of the Shepherds with the Nine Choirs of Angels
Date made about 1499
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 52.4 x 37.5 cm
Acquisition credit Layard Bequest, 1916
Inventory number NG3105
Location in Gallery Room 2
Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download an 800px wide, 72dpi copy of this image.

License this image

License and download a high resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Yes, I'd like to donate
Or
Download low resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo