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The Adoration of the Shepherds

Hendrick Goltzius’s Adoration of the Shepherds depicts a typical version of the story, consisting of the Nativity figures with caroling angels and shepherds from the fields. Here Mary unveils the naked babe for the first time to the shepherds, and through them to all mankind. Goltzius adds a new kind of realism to the scene by showing the shepherds coming in from the fields. Like most versions after the end of the fourteenth century, the event occurs at night. Goltzius not only included all of the standard scenes in his Life of the Virgin series, but he executed each plate in the style of an earlier master, such as Albrecht Dürer or Lucas van Leyden. This tour de force became known as “the Masterpieces.” This episode is in the manner of Jacopo Bassano, who was known for his night scenes. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art’s collection includes all six prints in this series (Eskenazi Museum of Art 72.131.1–.6).

Hendrick Goltzius
Dutch, 1558–1617
The Adoration of the Shepherds from The Life of the Virgin
1594
Engraving on paper
Image: 18 ¼ x 13 13/16 in. (47.3 x 35.1 cm); plate: 18 ¾ x 14 in. (47.4 x 35.6 cm); sheet: 20 13/16 x 15 5/8 in. (52.9 x 39.7 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 72.131.3