“Adoration of the Shepherds”, Bartolome Esteban Murillo – description of the painting

Description of the picture:

Adoration of the Shepherds – Bartolome Esteban Murillo. 1646-1655.

   Murillo’s paintings are distinguished by convincing naturalism, similar to other recognizable baroque painters, namely Caravaggio, Annibale Carracci, Velazquez and Zurbaran. Murillo’s youth to this day is evidenced by the dramatic chiaroscuro used by the aforementioned painters. As the style developed, Bartolome discarded the sick realism of his predecessors in favor of a light, soft, often sugary sweetness. The creator’s early style bears the stamp of his own teacher, Castello, then the most popular artist in Seville, Zurbaran.

In these years, Murillo uses strong chiaroscuro, overpriced drama, lively naturalism. Early works are also endowed with a concise, abstract, scenic place, so common in Spanish painting. Bartolome was known for his ability to draw breathtakingly lively faces, their expressions, and also capture details close to reality, such as mud on the soles of bare feet (a lesson, of course, from Caravaggio). Murillo was admired for his ability to capture fleeting facial expressions. Fans of his work were awed by the emotions of the heroes, especially the smirk.

   The painting “The Adoration of the Shepherds” was painted around 1646-1655. This biblical story has many interpretations, but the essence is one. Shepherds gather around the baby Christ to bow to him and offer him their gifts: a lamb, several chickens and a basket of eggs. The scene recalls the worship of the Magi to the newborn Jesus. Composition, technique, chiaroscuro send to the canvas of a compatriot. Black background, rich dense tones, red in the shadows, contrasts of light and shadow, emphasized earthly, real characters – everything recalls the canvas of Ribera Husep. Which, in turn, imitated Caravaggio. Their work is also united by the fact that biblical, gospel images on canvases were depicted by commoners.

   On canvas, we see a happy, completely young, Mary, who knew the satisfaction of motherhood. She carefully holds the baby, turning away the sheet so that guests can see it. This is the semantic center of the canvas. Around the mother and baby shepherds gathered in the midst of which an old lady. Farmers admire the baby, their eyes are full of awe. Even the gifts are alive: the cattle and the sheep, are closely watching Jesus.

“Adoration of the Shepherds”, Bartolome Esteban Murillo - description of the painting"