The Adoration of the Shepherds

El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) Greek

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 619

El Greco’s late work is characterized by a tendency toward abstraction and almost dancelike, restless movement that animates the painted surface while also serving his narrative. Here, the shepherds’ lively gestures indicate their excitement at Christ’s birth. The nocturnal setting heightens an otherworldly palette. El Greco often made replicas or variants of important compositions; much like Claude Monet or Paul Cézanne, the artist used repetition to work through a theme, belying the notion of a singular original. No fewer than eight versions of this subject were in his studio at his death. This work repeats features of another painting he made for Juan de Ribera, an influential figure in the Roman Catholic church in Spain.

The Adoration of the Shepherds, El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos) (Greek, Iráklion (Candia) 1541–1614 Toledo), Oil on canvas

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