Annunciation to the shepherds

   The scene stems from the Gospel of St. Luke. On the night of Christ's birth, an angel appeared to a group of shepherds who were watching their flock in Bethlehem and told them that the Savior was born. This story gave artists the opportunity to depict a nocturnal scene. In the Baroncelli Chapel at Santa Croce, Florence (1332-1338), by Taddeo Gaddi, shepherds are awakened by an angel whose bright light illuminates the nocturnal landscape. Jacopo Bassano also used the angel as the source of light in his 1555-1560 Annunciation (Washington, National Gallery), an unusual rendition in that the shepherds are a family group with a woman milking a cow on the right. One of the men shields his eyes from the angel's light. In 1416, the Limbourg brothers depicted the scene in Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry (fol. 48r; Chantilly, Musée Condé) with a whole chorus of musical angels appearing to the shepherds to add a celebratory mood to the event.
   See also Jean, Duc de Berry.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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