Fireflies: Christmas Masterpiece         

Dec 19, 2012

Christmas Masterpiece

"Adoration of the Shepherds," Gerrit van Honthorst 1622
We must not despise humble beginnings.  
A lowly stable.  A babe in a manger.  A risen King.  The Savior of the world.  

Even if we can only draw a stick man, we honor what we have been given.  That which we bless, increases.  That which we curse withers and dies!  Sharing the joy found in this beautiful rendition of the Adoration of the Shepherds, please note the facial expressions in the painting.  Linger on them awhile.  Let them draw you into the scene as if you were there.  

Don't you just love how Joseph is fondly clutching the cow's horn as if the animal were part of the family?  How would you describe Joseph and Mary's expressions? 

Loving and kind.

Where is the light reflecting the brightest, after baby Jesus?  

It appears that Mary's face is lit the most and Joseph's,
standing to Mary's right, is lit up second-most.

Can you feel the chill in the air, yet feel the warmth of the light illuminating baby Jesus?  

How would you describe the youngest shepherd's expression? 

The other shepherd's expressions?  
Awestruck, amazed, loving.

This Dutch Baroque artist, Gerrit van Honthorst (1590-1656), used the technique of chiaroscuro (pronounced key - ar- uh - SKEW- row), developed by the artist Italian Caravaggio.  Chiaroscuro is simply using the dramatic effect of light and darks to create form and space.  These bold contrasts can be seen because in this case van Honthorst used a single candle in an evening setting.  This is very typical of the Baroque period of the 1600s in art.  Van Honthorst also shares the use of expressive faces like Carivaggio which, with the bold contrast of lights and darks, makes this nativity scene quite dramatic.  Whenever you see a single candle lighting a night scene, you can probably guess the it was painted in the 1600s during the Baroque period!

This is a beautiful effect, especially as we ponder the Light which was born into a dark world.  Enjoy this masterpiece and share with your children.  May they be drawn into the scene as if they were there.  May we all realize how beautiful, how glorious is the Light, born in a manger, our Redeemer, the Savior of the world.

May you be exceedingly, abundantly blessed this Christmas season...


Laura Bird Miller
Artist/Art Instructor

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