|The Adoration of the Shepherds is the subject of this early work by the Flemish painter Jacob Jordaens. According to the Bible, the shepherds were the first who came to worship the new-born Jesus. Angels – seen at the upper left – had appeared to them in the fields to announce His birth. The shepherds stand around the Child, lying safely in Mary’s arms. The youth on the left is especially well conceived, leaning on his crook and gazing tenderly at the infant.
The painting displays many characteristics of the style of the Italian artist Caravaggio. Jordaens, who never travelled to Italy himself, knew the style from the work of Rubens. One of its characteristics is stark realism, as seen in the lined faces of the elderly Joseph and the old shepherdess. Another is the placing of the figures: the large figures barely fit into the picture, and some are even cut off by the edge of the canvas. The result is a scene so intimate that the viewer feels like a participant.