(b. ca. 1515, Bassano, d. 1592, Bassano)

Adoration of the Shepherds

c. 1550
Oil on canvas, 97 x 142 cm
Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

From his earliest works, Bassano was particularly fond of the theme of devoted shepherds with their flocks, and other realist pastoral scenes.

In this painting mannerism and realism encounter one another in singularly harmonious rapport. The refined, attenuated forms of the figures may derive from Mannerism, and the palette and the taste for ruins from Northern Europe, probably through Pieter Aertsen, but what makes the picture datable around 1550 is the loving, closely observed naturalism with which the animals have been depicted, a characteristic common to an entire group of Bassano's paintings.