Art Guide - December 2018

Columban - Calendar Art Guide - December 2018  

The Adoration of the Shepherds, (oil on canvas, c.1650) by Murillo, Bartolome Esteban (1618-82)

The Spanish artist Murillo evokes a mood of tender reverence in his rendering of this familiar episode from the Infancy narrative. The story, only found in Luke describes an angel announcing Christ’s birth to a group of shepherds. The painting depicts the scene where the shepherds present their humble gifts to the Christ child. The gifts they bring – a lamb and basket full of eggs – remind the viewer of the shepherds’ lowly status. Despite their poverty and meagre resources the generosity of their gifts speaks to the viewer of the shepherds love for the Christ child. Murillo underlines the meagreness of these peasants’ lives. Yet the artist conveys the patient attentiveness of the shepherds. Like the Italian artist Caravaggio some 40 years before him, the Spanish painter discovers dignity in the earthy humanity of the muted colours and home-spun drabness of the shepherds’ costumes. The care-worn faces of the older man and woman hint at the daily struggle to survive. The young man gently restrains the lamb with a gesture that reassures the nervous animal. Light bursts into the darkened space, seemingly from a space outside the painting. Like a spotlight suddenly erupting amid the darkness, this brightness illuminates the Child with Mary his mother. Joseph stands quietly gazing down upon his Child. Through Murillo’s mastery the viewer finds themselves ushered into the mystery of the “word made flesh who dwells among us.”

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Columban Catholic Art Calendar 2019

2019 Columban Catholic Art Calendar

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