December 28, 2017

Rembrandt, "Adoration of the Shepherds with Lamp"

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), The Adoration of the Shepherds with the Lamp (II/II), c.1654, etching, 4 3/16 x 5 1/16 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchase/gift of the Mahonri M. Young Estate, 1959.

Rembrandt portrays the Savior’s birth as humble and ordinary, almost a commonplace earthly event. Mary is not the elegantly dressed Madonna seen in many paintings, nor is the manger placed in a setting of classical ruins as seen in the Italian Renaissance. Only the reverential attitude of the shepherds indicates that something extraordinary is taking place. Concerning himself with the individual reactions of these simple peasants, Rembrandt’s compassionate feelings toward the poor and the outcast is evident.