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Adoration of the Shepherds
Anonymous (Workshop of: Bassano)
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Anonymous (Workshop of: Bassano)

Adoration of the Shepherds

After 1575. Oil on canvas.
Not on display

This is a modest bottega product illustrating the passage on the birth of Christ (Luke 2: 8-20) which lends itself particularly well to a nocturnal setting. It is a replica, not of the Adoration of the Shepherds Jacopo executed in 1590 for San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, as previously believed, but of the painting depicting the same theme housed at the Louvre (inv. 430), which is an entirely autograph work by Jacopo and is dated to 1575. The Prado version uses the same general composition as the Louvre painting. It also shares the same setting -the humble cabin aside impressive classical ruins- and the arrangement of the figures, though some have changed position (the Child) or physiognomy (the shepherd in a most upright position). The sources of light remain the same: the Child, the flash of heavenly light, the candle and the little shepherd blowing on the burning coal, though the Prado replica has a crepuscular light that is absent from the Paris original. The paintings are practically the same size (the one in the Louvre measures 126 x 104 cm), which suggests that a ricordo of the original work was used to execute the Prado version.

A comparison with the Adoración de los Pastores (P25) reveals the poorer quality of this work, but also the use of a different technique. Whereas in Jacopo´s work, the quick play of short brushstrokes had a decisive role in creating the effects of light on the bodies, enlivening the surface, in the Prado version, longer and less vibrant brushstrokes of colour were used to achieve these effects.

Although the Adoration of the Shepherds entered the royal collection under Isabella Farnese, a Bassanesque work of similar characteristics but inferior quality hung in the small cloister of the old church of the Escorial at the end of the 16th century. Francisco Pacheco (1564-1644) must have seen this painting, for when he criticised the painters who depicted the Christ Child naked in his El Arte de la Pintura, he cited the example of Juan de Roelas´s Adoration of the Shepherds in the Jesuit church in Seville, stating that the artist portrayed Jesus in this manner imitando al Basan. There is a smaller (80 x 105 cm) copy of poor quality, probably Spanish, at the convent of Madres Mecedarias de Don Juan de Alarcon in Madrid (Text drawn from Falomir, M.: Los Bassano en la España del Siglo de Oro, Museo Nacional del Prado, 2001, p. 231).

Technical data

Inventory number
Anonymous (Workshop of: Bassano)
Adoration of the Shepherds
After 1575
Height: 128 cm; Width: 104 cm
Royal Collection (Collection of Isabel Farnesio, Palacio de La Granja de San Ildefonso, Segovia, 1746; La Granja, dormitorio de sus altezas, 1766, nº 235; Palacio de Aranjuez, pieza del oratorio y otras sueltas, 1794, nº 235; Palacio Real, Madrid, cuarto del infante don Francisco-primera pieza, 1814-1818, nº 235).

Bibliography +

Arslan, Edoardo, I Bassano, Casa Editrice Ceschina, Milán, 1960, pp. lam. 230.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: pintura italiana anterior a 1600, Gredos, Madrid, 1979, pp. 225-226.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 32.

Sigüenza, Fray José de, La Fundacion del Monasterio de el Escorial, Turner, Madrid, 1986, pp. 374.

Hellmann, M., Kunst in Venedig. Gemalde Und Zeichnungen 16-18 Jh, Giese, Offenbasch, 1987.

Pacheco, Francisco1564-1644, Arte de la pintura, Cátedra, Madrid, 1990.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990, pp. 183.

Checa Cremades, Fernando, De Tiziano a Bassano. Maestros Venecianos del Museo de Prado, Museu Nacional D'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, 1997, pp. 166-168.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Los Bassano en la España del Siglo de Oro, Museo Nacional del Prado, Salamanca, 2001, pp. 106.

Aterido Fernández, Ángel; Martínez Cuesta, Juan; Pérez Preciado, José Juan, Colecciones de pinturas de Felipe V e Isabel Farnesio. Inventarios Reales, II, Fundación de Apoyo de la Historia del Arte Hispánico, Madrid, 2004, pp. 355.

Ruíz Manero, J. M., Los Bassano en España, Fundación Universitaria Española, Madrid, 2011, pp. 157-159 n.6J, il. XXVIII.

Other inventories +

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 641.
Bassano (Jacobo) / 641. El niño Jesus adorado por los angeles y los pastores. / Las figuras reciben la luz del niño Dios. / Alto 4 pies, 7 pulg; ancho 3 pies, 8 pulg, 6 lin.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 641.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 28.

Inv. Isabel Farnesio, La Granja, 1746. Núm. 235.
Una Pintura origl en Lienzo, de manò de Bassan, que reptª el Stº Nacimiento, y adoracion de los Pastores: Tiene vara, y meª y dos dedos de alto; una y once de ancho. Marco dorado con Targetas a las Esquinas...1

Inv. Testamentaría Isabel Farnesio, La Granja, 1766. Núm. 235.
Ôtro de cinco pies y medio de alto por quatro y medio de ancho, marco dorado con targetas, representa un Nacimiento del Basano, vale mil y quinientos rrs

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Aranjuez, 1794. Núm. 235.
Pieza del Oratorio y otras sueltas [...] {256} 235 / Quatro pies y tres quartos de alto y tres y tres quartos de ancho: El Nacimiento del Redentor. Vasano ... 2000

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. 235.
Quarto del Infante Don Francisco / Primera pieza [...] {21893} 235 / dos varas menos tercia de alto vara y quarta de ancho La adoracion de los pastores al Niño con varios angeles - del Vassano

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Pintura veneciana del siglo XVI de las colecciones del Museo del Prado
04.12.1997 - 08.02.1998

Venecia en los siglos XVI al XVIII. Pinturas y Dibujos
25.04.1987 - 08.06.1987

Update date: 09-04-2022 | Registry created on 02-12-2015

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