The Adoration of the Shepherds

Church of St. Gregory, Ribeauvillé, France.

This image has an unusual set of characters. The one kneeling to the Christ Child is not a shepherd but an angel. That leaves three male figures. Either all three are shepherds, gradated as to age with the middle-aged shepherd on the far left, the eldest next to him, and the youngest on the right; or the bearded man is St. Joseph and the artist has ignored the convention of portraying a total of three shepherds.

The tiny figures in the upper left are the shepherds (only two of them) receiving the news from the angel, who is pictured above, center. The conventional ox and ass are on the left, a sheep on the right. Mary is recumbent, not kneeling to the Child, so the date of the work seems most likely to be before the 1370s, when Nativities came under the influence of Bridget of Sweden's Revelations.

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Photographed at the church by Claire Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.