Church of San Niccolò al Carmine

Adoration of the Shepherds

Bartolomeo Neroni known as Il Riccio (1532-1571) and Arcangelo Salimbeni (1536? - 1579)

1570 - 1571

The painting, commenced by Il Riccio and completed by Arcangelo Salimbeni, used to be located above the altar dedicated to the Nativity of Jesus but is currently hanging on the right wall of the church. The scene portrays the arrival of the shepherds in Bethlehem after the Angel had heralded the birth of their Savior Jesus Christ. According to Luke (2, 16-17): “And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.” In the painting the Blessed Virgin lifts the white shroud, drawing attention to the Body of Christ and thus symbolically alluding to this Mystery of the Incarnation of Jesus in the celebration of Eucharist, when God the Father is invoked to send the Holy Spirit to transform bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. The Holy Spirit is portrayed in the top part of the painting: in the form of a dove, it descends on the Child, whose nakedness reveals that He is true man as well as true God.
The scene is set against the ruins of a classical building, symbol of the ancient Roman world coming to an end, in contrast with the vitality of Jesus Child which, instead, represents the imminent dawning of the Christian world. The . . .

  • Neroni B. known as Il Riccio and Salimbeni A., The Adoration of the Shepherds, 1570 -1571.