Object Image

The Adoration of the Shepherds

Battista Franco's etching depicts a group of shepherds guided by a host of angels who visit the Virgin Mary and the Christ child. The shepherds' twisting bodies, pointing gestures, and directional gazes-mirrored by those of a donkey and a cow-demonstrate an active response to the miraculous birth. A more contemplative spirituality is represented by men who converse in the background, and particularly by Joseph, who gazes meditatively at the Virgin and Child.

The background is populated with ancient ruins on the left and an Italian city on the right, suggesting that the narrative takes place simultaneously as a historical event in the distant past and as a spiritual event in the present-day lives of its viewers.

Credit: Alma Kroeger Fund

c. 1552
Etching and engraving
37.5 x 51.0cm
2017.107
Image and text: The Cleveland Museum of Art, 2023

Where you'll find this

The Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art
Permanent collection