This is one of Rembrandt's most dramatic etchings. The story is taken from the Gospel of Luke, where an angel of the Lord announces to the shepherds the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the city seen in the background. The vivid contrast between celestial light and earthly darkness speaks eloquently of the drama of divine intervention.
A technically daring work in which almost the entire plate is etched black, this was Rembrandt's first etching of a night scene. It represents a masterpiece in which the technical and expressive limits of the etching medium were extended to their utmost.