The Adoration of the Shepherds
  • Date: c. 1665 - c. 1670
  • Object Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 146.7 x 218.4 cm
  • Object size: 167 x 240 x 8 cm
  • Inv: P34
  • Location: Great Gallery
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Further Reading
  • Mary reveals the newborn Christ to the shepherds allowing them to be the first to recognise the Son of God. They come bearing doves, the traditional offering for purification after birth, and a bound lamb. The latter symbolises Christ’s later sacrifice, which the Child already contemplates in the heavenly vision of a Cross seen at the top of the painting. Realistic details, such as the still life of the cushion, the straw hat and the dirty foot of the shepherd in the foreground, lend the picture a feeling of immediacy and intimacy that makes its message all the more convincing.

    The Genoese merchant Giovanni Bielato brought this painting, along with a number of other works by Murillo including the Wallace Collection’s Joseph and His Brethren and St Thomas of Villanueva, to his native city in c.1670. After his death they passed to the Capuchin Order in the city, from whom they were subsequently acquired in the nineteenth century by a British dealer.

    This painting was purchased by the 4th Marquess of Hertford in 1846.