This painting dates from the artist's last creative period. 'The Adoration of the Shepherds' has been identified as a predella on various occasions, i.e. the lower part of an altarpiece, but this is unlikely for various reasons. Mary and Joseph are kneeling on either side of the manger, surrounded by the angels who are worshipping the child with them. The Shepherds to whom God's angel has proclaimed the birth of Christ come hurrying in from the left, curious and full of joy. When confronted with this miracle taking place before their eyes they kneel down or stop in a running pose with their mouths wide open. The picture is framed on the right and left by two large half-length figures who are drawing a curtain aside. These are Old Testament prophets, who had foretold Christ's birth. They underline the profound significance of the event as writers who had proclaimed that God would be made man. The sheaf of corn by the manger is vividly linked with the sacrament of the Lord's Supper and Christ's words: "I am the bread which came down from heaven" (John 6, 41).


  • Title: The Adoration of the Shepherds
  • Creator: Hugo van der Goes
  • Date Created: around 1480
  • Physical Dimensions: w245.0 x h97.0 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Medium: Oil on oak wood
  • Style: Netherlandish
  • Copyright Text: Text: © http://www.prestel.com, Prestel Verlag / Rainald Grosshans // Photo: © http://www.bpk-images.de, b p k - Photo Agency / Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders
  • Collection: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Artist information: Hugo van der Goes ranks as one of the most important early Netherlandish painters. He was involved in the decoration of the town of Bruges, where the celebrations of the marriage between Charles the Bold and Margaret of York took place. In 1473 or 1474 he became the dean of the Ghent painter's guild. After that he entered the Roode Klooster ('Red Monastery') near Brussels, but did not abandon his painting. The altarpiece Portinari Triptych in Florence, Italy, was executed by him and is one of his most famous works.
  • Artist Place of Death: Oudergem, Belgium
  • Artist Place of Birth: Ghent, Belgium
  • Artist Gender: male
  • Artist Dates: 1440/1482

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