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Probably by Bernardino Butinone, 'The Adoration of the Shepherds', about 1480-5

Key facts
Full title The Adoration of the Shepherds
Artist Probably by Bernardino Butinone
Artist dates active 1475 to about 1510
Date made about 1480-5
Medium and support Tempera on poplar
Dimensions 24.8 × 21.6 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1918
Inventory number NG3336
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Adoration of the Shepherds
Probably by Bernardino Butinone

The Virgin Mary kneels in adoration before Christ, her son, who lies on his back in the hay in a manger. Behind her are two men in ragged clothes. This is the Adoration of the Shepherds, described in Gospel of Luke (2: 8–18). Mary’s husband Joseph – looking slightly despondent – sits huddled in a yellow cloak, his back against the wall. Beside him, a small waterskin and a round object, perhaps a flask, hang from a peg.

This small panel is one of a series that shows events from the life of Christ, painted by Bernardino Butinone probably in the early 1480s. Around 13 survive in various collections; others are lost. They perhaps came from a large multi-panelled altarpiece that possibly involved sculpture, such as were fashionable in Lombardy.

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