by Francesco Bassano
Italian 1549-1592, active in Venice and Bassano del Grappo

By: Helen Gokbudak. February 29, 2000
SN88, Oil on Canvas

The painting illustrates the text in Luke(2:15-16). “When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,-Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.”

In this painting, Francesco sets the adoration of the shepherds at night time. Christ lies in the manger with Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds looking at the Christ child. There are angels at the top center of the painting and two cows standing to the right foreground.

The painting c. 1580. is a vertical night scene with the Christ child in the manger at the left foreground with the brightest luminous light coming from around Christ and the manger, Mary and Joseph are kneeling by the manger with the light from the manger illuminating them. The shepherds standing on the right foreground, with much lesser light around them, cows are standing to the very right foreground of the picture. The angels are at the top of the painting and are diffuse without sharp edges, the second strongest luminescence is coming from this area. The color is dark, shading is present The subjects are not looking out at the viewer but are realistic in presentation.

The subject of this painting was described as an important work of Francesco by Arslan. Two followers of Francesco also painted similar pieces, The arched top and its narrow format indicate that it occupied a specific architectural location. The foreground group is similar to his father’s work

The present Ringling description of this painting states: “Francesco set the adoration at night time not only to signify the holiness of the Christ Child by the dramatic emanation of light from the cradle, but also in order to demonstrate his own skill as a painter.”

Unknown;acquired John Ringling c.1926-30.