Gerard (Gerrit) van Honthorst 1590 – 1656

Adoration of the Shepherds (1622)

oil on canvas (164 × 190 cm) — 1622 Museum Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne

Gerard (Gerrit) van Honthorst biography

This work is linked to Luke 2:16

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Anyone familiar with the work of Caravaggio immediately recognizes his influence on the work of Van Honthorst. The artist plays with light. Irrelevant parts of the canvas are left in the dark.

Van Honthorst made this canvas in 1622, two years after his return from Italy.

The source of the light on the child is not shown, which suggests some mystic origin. The light is reflected on the faces of the other figures.

The three shepherds to the left are grouped in a nice triangle. Triangles are a well-known way to achieve coherence in a composition. The heads of Mary, Joseph and the ox form another triangle.

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