Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Adoration of the Shepherds

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

From the top to bottom; Tintoretto, Rembrandt, Rubens, Foggini, Van Honthorst, Corregio, Boucher


Ptolemy said...

I really enjoyed this last year, and again this year—excellent composition. Thank you and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Unknown said...

what a beautiful respite from the mall marathons and frazzled frenzy of it all.
Merry Christmas.

JonInFrance said...

I really like the first one and the bas-relief. They always do Mary's face beautifully.

Robert J. Simone said...

My wife loves that line, "....and they were sore afraid." That's because Linus used the same King James verbiage in The Charlie Brown Christmas. It does have a nice eloquence about it.

Merry Christmas to you and all of the readers.

Jo-Ann Sanborn said...

Makes us look more deeply at both the art and the spiritual response to our Christmas celebrations. Enjoyable and beautiful. Thanks, Stape. A very Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Teresa Cowley said...

Stape, what a beautiful post. My heart was touched! Thank you!

Deborah Paris said...

So glad you are doing this again, Stape. The words are so powerful and when combined with the art...well, Hallelujah!

billspaintingmn said...

The fact that this event actually took place can send any imagination
into wonderment.
Imagination and creativity is a blessing.
Peace on Earth! Good will toward men! Merry Christmas! said...


Mary Byrom said...

Very nice Stapleton! This is the first time I've seen that Van Honthorst since I was little. I always liked the way the baby was the source of the light in the picture and lit the faces of everyone. And allowing a cow to get so close to a baby really got my attention. We knew cows well where I grew up and they didn't behave nicely like that cow. Here is a picture of gentle, polite cow. Joseph is even relaxing his hands on his head... special baby indeed !

Kyle V Thomas said...

Beautiful words. Beautiful work. I agree with you about the Rembrandt. He projects an earthy fleshly vision to the mystery and wonder of the scene.
That Bas Relief is incredible.
Peace be with you.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful indeed, but I ask, "What's a pukid?"

Lyn A said...

Thanks, Stape. This post was a great reason to stop and reflect in the midst of a very hectic day/week. Wishing you and yours a very merry holiday and all the best in the coming year.

willek said...

Just a terrific series of posts, Stape over the last few weeks and remarkable with the trip down south and all.

We wish you and Kathleen and family a terrific holiday.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Merry Christmas to you and large dogs.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Additional respite provided tonight

Stapleton Kearns said...

That seems to be a constant doesn't it.

Stapleton Kearns said...

That wouldn't make it on TV today,

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. Merry Christmas.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you. In three days I will go back to breaking hearts.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Here I am just about finished with year two of the blog.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Merry Christmas.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Merry Christmas!You need a sweetgrass basket under your tree!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Usually a cow will try to hold you down with it's front feet and tear your liver out like Prometheus.
Hate em.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks, Merry Christmas!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Pukid is a word I got from Ives Gammell. It is a combination of putti and Cupid I suppose. It is those horrid little fat babies that flit about the tops of baroque paintings like airborn gobs of suet.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and much colored dust.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you and Merry Christmas.