The Adoration of the Shepherds

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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This small panel is painted in fine detail, resembling a precious painted miniature or illuminated manuscript. It formed the left side of a diptych (a work of two parts) joined with a central hinge; the other side showed The Dead Christ. Joseph, the Virgin Mary and a shepherd in torn clothes pray before the infant Christ. He lies naked in a manger in front of an elaborate wooden structure that looks more like a temple or church than a stable. Although it is made of humble materials, its design reflects the ideas of the eminent local architect, Alberti, whose church architecture incorporated features of ancient Roman architecture. This cultural reference would not have been lost upon the diptych’s owner Eleonora of Aragon, Duchess of Ferrara.

The National Gallery, London



The Adoration of the Shepherds


about 1490


Tempera on wood


H 17.8 x W 13.5 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1894

Work type



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The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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