• 11 Jan 21

Jan 11 - “Adoration of the Shepherds" by Museum Religious Art Classics

Artist: Andrea Mantegna – c. 1450

The scene is set in an open space, with the Madonna in the middle, adoring the Child while kneeling on a stone step, while to her right St. Joseph is sleeping, and to her left two shepherds pray. St. Joseph's sleep may hint at his role as mere guardian of the Virgin and the Child. The blasted tree on which he leans has borne fruit on a single branch; the usual interpretation of this traditional feature is of the mystic renewal of Nature under the new dispensation. Jesus' three-quarters depiction is typical of Mantegna's production.

On the far left is a fenced orchard, symbolizing Mary's virginity. Also depicted are boards of the ruinous stable in which traditionally Jesus was born. On the right is a wide landscape, framed by two steep mountains. Two other shepherds are represented in the right background, together with a big tree somewhat resembling the Calvary Cross, a presage of Jesus' Passion. There is also an ox, a traditional mute witness of the Nativity.