Adoration of the Shepherds
Domenico Theotocopoulos, called El Greco
oil on canvas
(118 x 107cm)
This small altarpiece seems to have been acquired as a Tintorett, an attribution explicable only in that it depicts a night scene. In November 1570, Giulio Clovio had recommended to Alessandro Farnese 'a young man from Candia....a disciple of Titian'. Giovanni Britto's woodcut after Titian's Adoration of the Shepherds was doubtless in El Greco's mind when experimenting with the same theme; and the painting which is probably his earliest treatment of it (Modena, Galleria Estense) witnesses his attention to that print. There followed four treatments of an idiosyncratically mystical character, closely related to each other: a panel, formerly in Paris with Carlo Briglio; a canvas, formerly in the Charles Brunner collection; an exquisite copper, nearest in composition to the Boughton painting, which was acquired recently in New York for the San Diego Museum of Art; and, finally, the largest version at Boughton. All four are datable c. 1574-5.
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