National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Annunciation to the Shepherds Jacopo Bassano (artist)
Venetian, c. 1510 - 1592
The Annunciation to the Shepherds, probably 1555/1560
oil on canvas
overall: 106.1 x 82.6 cm (41 3/4 x 32 1/2 in.) framed: 131 x 106.7 x 10.6 cm (51 9/16 x 42 x 4 3/16 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
1939.1.126
Not on View
From the Tour: Venetian Painting in the Later Sixteenth Century
Object 7 of 7

In this inventive interpretation of the announcement of Christ's birth, Jacopo Bassano merged the biblical narrative with a pastoral scene. Rather than present the traditional image of an angel appearing before three shepherds in the field, the miracle is here experienced by a family group placed in a moonlit landscape that recalls the mountainous terrain surrounding the artist's native town of Bassano. An angel descends through dark clouds in a flash of heavenly light, and each family member reacts differently to the presence of the divine messenger. Particularly odd is the inclusion of the female figure, who kneels in the foreground milking a cow.

Unlike the bright palette and tight handling of paint in his earlier Miraculous Draught of Fishes, Jacopo here applied darker colors with a looser and more expressive hand. The textural effects of this painterly brushwork are especially notable in the soft feathers of the angel's wings and the tiny pleats of the woman's shawl. One of several versions of this composition painted in Jacopo's studio, this canvas is universally recognized as having been painted by the master alone.

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