The Adoration of the Shepherds

Aelbert Bouts
112 cm x 94.8 cm x 1 cm
Inventory number: 
Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp
Category B: Southern Low Countries
16th century Adorations
Religious scenes

The tableau takes place in a ruinous stable. The ruins, is as in so many late-medieval Christmas presentations, the palace of David, from whose family the Messiah shall be born (Isaiah, 7: 13-14). The antithesis with the Old Law is called into play by the small image, on the capital of the far right, from the horned Moses figure, provided with the Tables of the Law and a staff. The child Jesus does not lay in the crib (see Luke, 2:27), but is naked on at the bottom of the spread blanket. Around the child lay sheaves of wheat: it shall be born in Bethlehem (= ‘bread house’) to become the Living Bread (John 6:51).