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Poorter, Willem de
The Adoration of the Shepherds The Adoration of the Shepherds
1644 1644

In this signed and dated work of 1644, De Poorter was offering his view of the oft-represented story that culminates in the Adoration of the Shepherds, as told in the Gospel of Luke (2:9-18). After being summoned by angels, who appear to them at night in the fields, shepherds hasten to visit the Holy Family. Once they have seen the infant Jesus, they tell everyone they meet about the prophecy concerning him—the “tidings of great joy.” Here, in the space of a barn, with hay spilling over the rough-cut beams above, they gather around the manger where Jesus lies, cradled in the arms of the Virgin. The dark interior’s only illumination radiates from the infant, as decreed by the pictorial tradition based on the Nativity vision of St. Bridget of Sweden, who is said to have seen the newborn child bathed in a divine light. Just behind Mary, between the two conversing shepherds, appear the heads of an ox and a donkey, the traditional references in Nativity scenes to the Gentiles (ignorant of the Gospel) and the Jews (who know it but—according to this anti-Semitic view—stubbornly resist it). De Poorter has positioned all the figures in a cluster in the centre, strongly differentiating them through expression and gesture.

 
Poorter, Willem de
Haarlem, Netherlands 1608-Haarlem, Netherlands 1668 Haarlem, Netherlands 1608-Haarlem, Netherlands 1668
The Adoration of the Shepherds The Adoration of the Shepherds
1644 1644
Oil on panel Oil on panel
33.4 x 28.4 cm
Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2013 Gift of Alfred and Isabel Bader, 2013
56-003.26

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