Dulwich Picture Gallery Presents Domenichino The Adoration of the Shepherds

The Dulwich Picture Gallery displays Domenichino’s The Adoration of the Shepherds on view now through 8th January, 2012.

Domenichino (Domenico Zampieri) (1581–1641), The Adoration of the Shepherds, c. 1607-10, Oil on canvas, 143 x 115 cm

Domenichino (Domenico Zampieri October 21, 1581 – April 16, 1641) was an Italian Baroque painter of the Bolognese School, or Carracci School, of painters.

Domenichino’s painting sets the standard for much of the nativity scenes produced to this day. His post-Tridentine emphasis on adoration imbues the scene with a festive celebration of faith. Along with the light emanating from Christ, the gift of a dove brought by the shepherds is a symbol for the peace the birth of Christ has introduced to the world, and the dog seated at the foot of the cradle represents the faithful Catholic soul. While many artists of his time may have had difficulty in reconciling a classicising style with the demand for spectacle on religious occasions, Domenichino retains the coherence and clarity of his composition by clearly delineating the contours of his many figures. The consequence of the scene is emphasised by tender and closely observed details such as the delicate light effects on the angels’ faces, the jewel-like tears of a shepherd, and the aging hand of another, shielding his eyes from the blinding light of the new saviour. However, it is the vivid and jubilant colouring and outstanding play of light in this painting that makes it a true celebration of the new hope and possibility brought by the child’s arrival.

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