Skip to main content

Luca Signorelli, 'The Adoration of the Shepherds', probably about 1490-1510

Key facts
Full title The Adoration of the Shepherds
Artist Luca Signorelli
Artist dates about 1440/50 - 1523
Date made probably about 1490-1510
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 17.1 × 64.8 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1900
Inventory number NG1776
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Adoration of the Shepherds
Luca Signorelli

The Virgin Mary kneels and bows her head before the newborn Christ, while her husband Joseph sits behind her on a low rock. Three shepherds bow in worship to the left. Despite its small scale, the painting demonstrates Signorelli’s immense skill at drawing the human body in complex poses, covering and revealing forms through their draperies.

The size and shape of this little panel makes it look like it is part of a predella, which is the lowest tier of an altarpiece running along the bottom of the main image. But the decorative framing elements make it more likely that it was intended as a stand-alone image, possibly the bottom edge of a tabernacle, a container in which the Host (the bread that was consecrated at the Eucharist) was stored. The painting was once thought to be unfinished but it is more likely that it was simply painted quite quickly.

Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download a low-resolution copy of this image for personal use.

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.

Download low-resolution image

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

Creative Commons Logo