Skip to main content
The Adoration of the Shepherds
Pupil of Rembrandt

Joseph stands behind the Virgin. Two shepherds kneel before the crib, hands raised in gestures of prayer and amazement. Behind, two women hold up a small child so that it can see Jesus. In the shadows on the right stand a group of five other figures, among them a boy with a dog. New Testament (Luke 2: 16).

The popular subject is expressed as a quiet, almost domestic scene. This effect is enhanced by the inclusion of women and children amongst the bystanders. Small pockets of light give an impression of intimacy.  However, the light coming from the Christ Child is far more powerful than the light from the lantern and thus draws our attention to him as 'the Light of the World', the future Saviour, at the centre of this scene.

Although the level of light is low, it is possible to make out a number of details, secondary figures and subplots, which add interest to the scene, such as the boy playing with the dog on the right, and the cross formed by the beams in the rafters.

Rembrandt painted a series of scenes from the life of Christ for the Stadholder of the Dutch Republic, Prince Frederik Hendrik of Orange (1587 - 1647), and this painting is based on 'The Adoration of the Shepherds' from that series (now Munich, Alte Pinakothek). It was probably painted by a student of Rembrandt, who may have been inspired by the original while it was still in the studio.

Key facts
Artist Pupil of Rembrandt
Artist dates 1606 - 1669
Full title The Adoration of the Shepherds
Date made 1646
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 65.5 x 55 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1824
Inventory number NG47
Location in Gallery Not on display
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