The Adoration of the Shepherds

Artist: Andrea Mantegna (Italian, Isola di Carturo 1430/31–1506 Mantua)

Date: shortly after 1450

Medium: Tempera on canvas, transferred from wood

Dimensions: Overall 15 3/4 x 21 7/8 in. (40 x 55.6 cm); painted surface 14 7/8 x 21 in. (37.8 x 53.3 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Purchase, Anonymous Gift, 1932

Accession Number: 32.130.2


Mantegna, one of the prodigies of Italian painting, had already established his reputation by the age of eighteen. This work must have been painted when he was in his early twenties, and it already shows the painter's astonishing descriptive gifts fully developed. It may have been commissioned by Borso d'Este, duke of Ferrara, and its style seems to be a response to the ideas of his court humanists, who admired detailed description. Although slightly cut down on the right side, and transferred from wood to canvas, the painting is in excellent condition.