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Work Adoration of the Shepherds

Department of Paintings: Italian painting

Adoration of the Shepherds

© 2009 RMN / Stéphane Maréchalle

Paintings
Italian painting

Author(s):
Constance Lavagne d'Ortigue

This work is the companion piece to the Marriage of the Virgin. It is probably one of a series of seventeen Scenes from the Life of the Virgin listed in an 18th-century inventory of the queen’s chamber in the royal palace in Madrid. Other works from the series are held in various Spanish museums and collections.

Carlo Maratta’s Influence

The Virgin Mary is holding the Infant Jesus in her arms, while Joseph is shown standing to one side. A number of cherubim hover in a ray of light which shines on the Holy Family. A group is approaching from the left, coming to worship the Infant Jesus and bringing gifts. The shepherd boldly stepping forward gives the composition a sense of dynamism, while the shepherd kneeling with his arms crossed over his chest creates an atmosphere of contemplation. The smooth, overblown figures show the influence of Carlo Maratta (1625-1713).

A brilliant career

Luca Giordano showed early promise when he began work in his father’s studio in Naples before moving to that of Ribera. His swift ease with a paintbrush earned him the nickname Luca Fa Presto. He eventually moved to Rome, where he was strongly influenced by the art of Pietro da Cortona. Luca Giordano had a talent for sunny pastiches, imitating all styles of painting and producing some etchings which demonstrate his skill as a draftsman. He traveled to Italy’s great artistic centers and copied the great masters in Rome, Florence, Milan, and Venice, then returned to Naples before entering the service of Grand Duke Cosimo III in Florence in 1667. He then went to work for Charles II of Spain in 1692, painting a fresco on the ceiling of the chapel and staircase in the Escurial before helping to decorate the grand salon of Buen Retiro and the vault of the royal chapel in Madrid. When the king died, Giordano returned with the new king to Naples, where he painted the sacristy of the Charterhouse of San Martino (1704), a light and airy baroque masterpiece.

Bibliography

- FERRARI O;, « Les Scènes de la vie de la Vierge de Luca Giordano (1634-1705) », La Revue du Louvre et des musées de France, 2004, n° 4, p. 61-66.

- LOIRE S., Peintures italiennes du XVIIe siècle du musée du Louvre, Florence, Gênes, Lombardie, Naples, Rome et Venise,  Paris, 2006, p. 174-176

Technical description

  • Luca GIORDANO (Naples, 1634 - 1705)

    Adoration of the Shepherds

    c. 1688

  • canvas

    H: 115 ; L: 136

  • M.I. 869

  • Paintings

    Denon wing
    1st floor
    Salvator Rosa
    Room 13

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