Adoration of the Shepherds (1485) by Domenico Ghirlandaio

Adoration of the Shepherds - Domenico Ghirlandaio - 1485

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Artwork Information

TitleAdoration of the Shepherds
ArtistDomenico Ghirlandaio
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions167 x 167 cm
Art MovementEarly Renaissance
Current LocationSanta Trinita, Sassetti Chapel, Florence

About Adoration of the Shepherds

The artwork “Adoration of the Shepherds” by Domenico Ghirlandaio is an oil on canvas painting dated 1485. Ghirlandaio, a master of the Early Renaissance, created this religious painting with dimensions of 167 x 167 cm. Housed in the Santa Trinita, specifically within the Sassetti Chapel in Florence, this artwork embodies the aesthetic and spiritual themes prevalent during the period of its creation.

The artwork depicts a serene yet emotionally charged scene centered around the New Testament story of the birth of Jesus Christ. The Virgin Mary is portrayed kneeling devoutly in adoration before the infant Jesus, who lies on a rustic manger. The composition is anchored by strong vertical and horizontal lines formed by classical architectural elements, such as the columns flanking the central figures, which hint at the stability and permanence of the scene.

In the background, the open landscape stretches into the distance, populated with diminutive figures that appear to be engaging in various activities, lending depth and context to the setting. A group of shepherds, for whom the painting is named, gather near the manger, their expressions conveying wonder and reverence as they bear witness to the divine event. To their right, a donkey and an ox are visible, traditionally included to represent the humility of Christ’s birthplace.

This tableau contains the rich texture and color characteristic of Early Renaissance art, making use of a harmonious palette and precise attention to details, such as the folds of the garments and expressions of the human figures. There is also a remarkable sense of perspective and proportion, testament to Ghirlandaio’s mastery of the techniques that were innovative at the time. The painting encourages the viewer to contemplate the sacred moment it represents, drawing them into a contemplation of the spiritual significance of the scene.

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