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The Adoration of the Shepherds

In Hendrick Goltzius’s unfinished print of the Adoration of the Shepherds, the artist presents an unusually intimate approach to the scene, eliminating all details of the story except for the figures themselves. The candle held by Joseph over the lower left of the composition, where the Christ Child was intended to be, refers to the visions of Saint Bridget of Sweden, which describes the material light of a candle held by Joseph as totally overshadowed by the divine light from the infant. Joseph is often associated with the shepherds as one of the first to view the Christ Child.

Hendrick Goltzius
Dutch, 1558–1617
The Adoration of the Shepherds
1598–1600
Engraving on paper
Image/plate: 8 3/8 x 5 15/16 in. (21.3 x 15.1 cm); sheet: 8 ½ x 6 1/16 in. (21.6 x 15.4 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 63.145