Illustrated history of biblical events, with engravings by Romeyn de Hooghe (1645 -1708).
De Hooghe was a prolific engraver of the Dutch Golden Age. These engravings exhibit his characteristic style, using strong contrast of dark and light for dramatic effect. De Hooge was a known supporter of William of Orange during Louis XIV’s invasion of the Netherlands. At the time he was producing these works, religious war brought battle to the Netherlands and across Europe in reaction to the divisions in the Catholic Church after the Reformation. The art of the Netherlands in the Baroque period is said to communicate the turbulence of the age through dynamic composition and dramatic light.
The Adoration of the Shepherds is depicted here in marvelous detail. The image of the baby Jesus appears wrapped in swaddling clothing in the manger. The figure of the baby Jesus is brightly illuminated in this scene, as is the face of the Virgin Mary. A stream of light shines from above. Five figures kneel or bow at the foot of the manger. The figure in the front kneels across his staff and holds a simple basket. We’re able to distinguish, from these clues, that these figures are the shepherds from the field. One figure holds a bright torch in the center of the scene. Images of torches were often used in Nativity scenes to symbolize the message that Christ is the “Light of the World.”
Artwork in the public domain