Gerard van Honthorst: Adoration of the Shepherds

Adoration of the Shepherds: Gerard van Honthorst

This is Dutch Golden Age painter Gerard van Honthorst’s religious masterpiece Adoration of the Shepherds which was painted in 1622 when he was 30 years of age.

Gerard van Honthorst was one of a small group of Dutch painters who relocated to Rome around 1616. While there, they worked on commissions and studied contemporary works by Italian masters, most notably Caravaggio.

Gerard van Honthorst’s 1622 Adoration of the Shepherds shows clear Caravagist influence through its close frame that cuts all of the figures off below the waist and the important role that light and shadow play in the composition. Parts of the canvas that are not important disappear in deep shadow, and baby Jesus himself is the only source of light, casting a warm glow on the faces of those who look over him. This is likely a direct Biblical reference to Jesus’ statement “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12 and John 9:5).

Gerard van Honthorst’s Adoration of the Shepherds can be found in the Pomeranian State Museum in Greifswald, Germany.

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