Luini, Bernardino

Adoration of the Christ Child and Annunciation to the Shepherds

circa 1520-1525

Place Made
Italy: Milan
Oil on panel transferred to canvas
69 3/4 x 47 in (177.165 x 119.38 cm)
Credit Line
The Samuel H. Kress Collection
Accession #

Through the opening in the upper third of the composition we witness The Annunciation to the shepherds. The delicate archangel Gabriel appears in a halo of light proclaiming the arrival of the messiah to the startled herdsmen. In the foreground, the first shepherd to arrive offers a lamb to the family, symbolizing Christ’s future sacrifice for mankind.

Luini worked in and near Milan. His Adoration exemplifies north Italian naturalism in the Virgin’s solid features, tendency for rounded, full forms, and earthy muted colors, and in the attention to incidental detail like the baby’s make-shift straw bed and the carefully described canteen on the back wall. The Virgin’s long, serene face and heavily lidded eyes recall the work of Leonardo, who resided in the city in the 1490s and whose work Luini copied and admired.