The Shepherds Adoration by Pieter Paul Rubens
P. P. Rubens (1577-1640)
Adorazione dei Pastori (1607)
Chiesa di San Filippo
The masterpiece of the artist from Anversa dates back
to 1607. It was brought back to light thanks to Roberto Longhi Historian
of Arts, that was visiting the city of Fermo in 1927 and recognized the
marvellous painting that had long been forgotten.
The painting was commissioned by Flaminio Ricci, one of
the Filippine Order, that wanted it done during the years of his stay in
The painting strip is a perfect harmony of Italian
masters such as Correggio, Tiziano and the young Caravaggio, that have
been chosen as a model by the Flemish Art.
The iconography choice of the Adoration of the
shepherds instead of the Nativity is given to Ricci: the aim was
perpetrating in Art the pauperistic matrix that the Philippine order
The bright event of the birth of the Infant is
remarkable in the dark night. It can be seen as a miracle by those that
the angels have chosen to announce the good novelty.
The Holy Mary is an adult woman, wrapped in grace. She
unveils the Infant to show it to the incredulous and wondering crowd. In
her glance the knowledge that that son that she has kept in her womb is
bound to redeem men's sin.
A metaphysic light irradiates from the plump and
sleeping body of Christ. It dilates in the space revealing the face of
those who came to adore him.
Each character reacts in a personal way to the sight of
the Infant: a woman in the background with a basket shows a maternal
tenderness at the sight of the small creature, an old lady looks up at the
sky with her hands towards the sky in a hieratic gesture of prayer. The
shepherd in the foreground betrays the human stupor in front of such a
divine prodigy and addresses the other shepherd on the left, pointing
Jesus to him. This man is blinded by the intensity of the Infant
brightness as soon as he arrives. He is compelled to shadow his face with
In the twilight Joseph stands behind Mary: three beautiful angels in the
sky attract his attention. They are the angels that have brought the
announcement to the shepherds and, like the by-standers, they get closer
to Jesus to enjoy his presence on earth.
Colours are masterfully modulated to convey a chiaroscuro effect reminding
of the "Night” by Correggio and making the enchanting background
atmosphere Baroque like.
by Guendalina Santini
2007Liberation Ventures Ltd.