The Adoration of the Shepherds is described in Luke, chapter 2 and has been painted throughout our art history. I have often stressed the importance of knowing the cultural material as essential to knowing about art. The Bible has been the greatest source of painters subjects. As I did for the last Christmas I am presenting the text and the great paintings together. I think the Rembrandt is absolutely incredible, when the subject was the Bible no one excelled him. He gets the rugged textures and the earthy reality of life. The Rubens is powerful but less magical, I think. I looked at dozens of images to select these and a lot of them were baroque and just didn't communicate as well as these, not that they weren't great art, but they didn't tell the story as well, too many silk scarves and pukids flying around.
8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
images from artrenewal.org
From the top to bottom; Tintoretto, Rembrandt, Rubens, Foggini, Van Honthorst, Corregio, Boucher