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The Adoration of the shepherds
Orrente, Pedro de
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Orrente, Pedro de

Murcia (Spain), 1580 - Valencia (Spain), 1645

Orrente, Pedro de See author's file

The Adoration of the shepherds

1623 - 1625. Oil on canvas.
Room 010B

This canvas presents one of the most persistent subjects in Pedro Orrente´s substantial output: the Nativity and the Adoration of the shepherds, a popular theme among seventeenth-century Spanish painters. Bucolic scenes were also captured successfully throughout the sixteenth century and much of the seventeenth century by the influential family of Italian painters: Jacopo, Leandro and Francesco Bassano. These artists from Venice specialised in pastoral scenes, some of which were based on biblical passages. Orrente spent some time in Venice with Leandro Bassano (1557-1622), adopting some of the Bassano family´s approach. His art became, in the eyes of many of his contemporaries, a Spanish extension of the pictorial worlds created by the Bassanos, as evinced by The Adoration of the shepherds, which faithfully reflects several Bassano compositions. The figures are situated in the foreground and the principal subject matter is placed on the viewer´s right-hand side of the painting. Secondary characters appear as a compositional counterpoint on the other side, surrounded by an open space that reveals a dusky landscape in the distance. The figures are taken directly from paintings by the Bassanos: the shepherd with a lamb on his shoulders; the woman whose back is turned to the viewer, showing the naked soles of her feet; the man wearing a conical hat with red plumes; the animals intermingled with the human figures; and the Virgin holding a white cloth, either revealing the Christ Child or about to cover Him. Orrente would often return to these pictorial models, adapting them to diverse formats that on occasion would allow him to include a host of angels. In the present case, he executed the painting on a horizontal canvas, which would have made the inclusion of such celestial apparitions difficult. In addition, the displacement of the principal subject from the centre to one side of the painting diminishes the overtly sacred tone of the subject, making it almost a congenial genre scene in which the divine is represented with a charmingly quotidian accent. With works such as this, Orrente brought together fundamental aspects of artistic taste from the period. He was able to prolong his success in the wake of the Bassanos by adapting their art to a Spanish society that maintained an interest in religious painting, but that was likewise attracted to new pictorial genres, such as landscape and still life. Elements of the latter are always present in the foreground of Orrente´s paintings. He also added novel aspects of the naturalistic style that had developed in Spain in the first third of the seventeenth century and that was itself indebted to the work of Caravaggio (1571-1610:) the sharp contrast in light and shadow; the tight modelling of the figures; and the use of a palette that abounded in earthy tones, applied over a layer of reddish chestnut-coloured paint. The wide dissemination of works by Orrente is not surprising, for he understood, through his contact with the Bassanos, the importance of running a prolific workshop, perhaps several in Orrente´s case. This helped him keep pace with the numerous commissions he received from different places, including Toledo, Murcia and Valencia. He also had several followers who contributed to the continued success of his painting, which helps to explain the uneven quality of the works associated with Orrente. The present painting from the Prado is considered to be of the highest quality and entirely from the hand of the artist. There are no known copies. The painting was originally in the Royal Collections and it is possible that it was first intended to hang in the Buen Retiro Palace, Madrid. Contemporary records indicate that works by Orrente, as well as works by the Bassanos, were part of the Palace´s decorations, but there is no indication of their exact placement. In 1772, and again in 1794, the painting was recorded as having been hung in the Royal Palace in Madrid, together with some Venetian works and very near two works by Bassano and two flower vases by Juan Fernández, El Labrador (Ruiz, L.: Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado, Queensland Art Gallery-Art Exhibitions Australia, 2012, p. 148).

Technical data

Related artworks

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Inventory number
Orrente, Pedro de
The Adoration of the shepherds
1623 - 1625
Height: 111 cm; Width: 162 cm
Royal Collection (Casa profesa de San Francisco de Borja, Madrid, camarín; adquirida por Carlos III, Madrid, 1769; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, paso de tribuna y trascuartos, 1772, s. n.; Palacio Real Nuevo, pieza encarnada a la derecha, 1794, s. n.; ¿Palacio Real, Madrid, [1ª] pieza de vestir, 1814-1818, s.n.).

Bibliography +

Angulo Íñiguez, Diego, Historia de la pintura española: escuela toledana de la primera mitad del siglo XVII, Instituto Diego Velázquez, Madrid, 1972, pp. nº212.

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

Puente, Joaquín de la, Del Greco a Goya, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1978.

Prinz Von Hohenzollern, J.G., Von Greco Bis Goya. Vier Jahrhunderte Spanische Malerei, Haus Der Kunst, Munich, 1982, pp. nº59.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 473.

Palomino de Castro y Velasco, Acisclo Antonio, Vidas, Alianza Editorial, Madrid, 1986, pp. 127.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990, pp. nº96.

Die Nacht, Haus Der Kunst, Munich, 1998.

El Legado de la Pintura. Murcia 1516-1811, Caja Murcia Ayuntamiento Obispado, Murcia, 1999, pp. 94 / nº11.

Ilustración y liberalismo 1788-1814, Sociedad Estatal de Commemoracion, 2008, pp. 204.

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from The Prado, Queensland Art Gallery, 2012, pp. 148-149, nº35.

de Carlos, Mª Cruz, 'Anónimo primera mitad del siglo XVII. Cabeza de muchacho' En:, Dibujos españoles en la Kunsthalle de Hamburgo, Museo Nacional del Prado Meadows Museum, Southern Methodist Univ. Hamburger Kunsthalle, Madrid, 2014, pp. 34.

Other inventories +

Inv. Fernando VII, Palacio Nuevo, 1814-1818. Núm. ¿s. n.?.
[1ª] Pieza de vestir [...] {21207} Dos varas de largo mas de vara de alto, la Adoración de los Pastores = estilo de Basano

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1910. Núm. 1015.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1942-1996. Núm. 1015.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 914.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 96.
Orrente (Pedro) / 96. La adoracion de los pastores (C.L.) / Alto 4 pies; ancho 5 pies, 10 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 96.

Inv. Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1772. Núm. s. n..
Paso de Tribuna y Trascuartos [...] {12731} [s. n.] = Profesa = Vn quadro que contiene el Nacimiento de Cristo y Adoracion de los Pastores de dos varas de largo y vara y quarta de caida original de Pedro de Orrente

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Palacio Nuevo, 1794. Núm. s. n..
Pieza encarnada á la Derecha [...] {453} Dos varas de largo y vara y tercia de alto: El Nacimiento. Pedro Orrente ... 4000

Inscriptions +

Inscribed in white. Front, lower left corner

Exhibitions +

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
16.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Houston TX
15.12.2012 - 31.03.2013

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
22.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Portrait of Spain. Masterpieces from the Prado
Brisbane, Australia
21.07.2012 - 04.11.2012

Ilustración y Liberalismo en España y América, 1788-1814
15.10.2008 - 11.01.2009

El legado de la pintura. Murcia, siglos XVI-XVII
15.04.1999 - 12.06.1999

La noche
01.11.1998 - 07.02.1999

Location +

Room 010B (On Display)


Displayed objects +


Update date: 26-05-2022 | Registry created on 28-04-2015

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