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Pupil of Rembrandt, The Adoration of the Shepherds

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

A burst of brilliant light shines on the newborn Christ, who is watched over by Mary, Joseph and a gathering of worshippers and onlookers. The source of the light is hidden, so it seems to radiate directly from the sleeping child, illuminating the faces of all around him.

The scene represents the episode in the Bible when shepherds arrived to pay homage to the Messiah. One kneels, raising his hands in wonder. Another is silhouetted against the light, while a third stands reverently to one side. Along with the animals in the background, this was the traditional cast of an Adoration of the Shepherds. But the artist added other figures, including the two women holding up a small child, to give the scene a more informal atmosphere.

A closely related version of the Adoration known to be by Rembrandt is in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich. Analysis suggests that it is likely that the London picture is a study inspired by the Munich one, made by a highly competent apprentice.

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