Mary's beatifically idealized face reflects the heavenly light emanating from the glowing baby Jesus. Attractive young women coo over the infant, an old man whispers to a bare-chested shepherd cradling a sheep at the far left, and two birds rest contentedly at the foot of the rustic manger. Though on the earthly plane, a young boy holding a dove and shading his eyes in the foreground seems more like a sibling to the heavenly putti holding a scroll and a censer over the newborn Christ.

The young Sebastiano Conca successfully blended this Baroque wealth of activity with a symmetrical, classicizing composition centered on the manger. Despite the painting's expansive scale, his brilliant handling lends a cool sweetness that points toward the Rococo style.

Conca painted this picture for Rome's most adventurous patron, Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni. He may also have used this painting as a model for an altar frontal, a pillow-like plaque decoration.


  • Title: The Adoration of the Shepherds
  • Creator: Sebastiano Conca
  • Date Created: 1720
  • Location Created: Naples, Campania, Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: 243.8 × 264.2 cm (96 × 104 in.)
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 78.PA.232
  • Culture: Italian (Neapolitan)
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Creator Display Name: Sebastiano Conca (Italian (Neapolitan), 1680 - 1764)
  • Classification: Paintings (Visual Works)

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