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An intimate Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of you!

To get into the spirit of the Christmas celebration, I dove into my collection of Nativity-related scenes and I have selected one of my favourites.
It is painted by Spanish Baroque artist Bartolomé-Esteban Murillo (1617 – 1682).
I like it so much, because it is one of the view paintings I know that shows the shepherds adoring the new born baby Jesus Christ in such an intimate way.

The baby Jesus is in the center of the work, two angels are placed above him in the sky. Mary, as so often dressed in red and blue, is gracefully showing her son to three adoring men. The baby lies in a wooden box, filled with hay. Joseph, who is standing next to Mary, makes a pointing gesture to present the child.
The three shepherds are clearly in awe of the child. They are dressed in simple clothes. One of the men is holding a stick, another is knieling before Jesus, barefooted. The men bring doves (held by the woman on the left), a traditional offering for purification after birth. We can also see a bound lamb in the front of the painting, a symbol of the later sacrifice of Christ.

You can see more animals surrounding the scene. An oxen and a donkey are positioned on the righthandside of Mary, to emphasize that we are indeed in the stable, as the story we all know so well tells us.

I also like the detail of the smiling child behind the women, in the left part of the painting. This is clearly a solemn, yet a happy occasion.

I hope you also get a chance to celebrate Christmas in an intimate and happy spirit!

Bartolomé-Esteban Murillo,The Adoration of the Shepherds, c. 1665 – c. 1670. Oil on canvas, 146.7 x 218.4 cm. The Wallace Collection, London.

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